Figure 1, The Experimental Sciences building was designed in 1961 and built from 1962 – 1964 when the first chemistry students moved in. Designed by former Professor of Architecture, Joseph Downes the concrete-framed structures were for biology, geology, physics, chemistry. The blocks were influenced by early German modernism of the Bauhaus, with their low-lying massing and restrained materials which dictated the later scales and palette of the campus.
Figure 2, Competition Conditions: In 1963 an international competition for a new university campus, including a master-plan and designs for an Arts Building, an Administration Building and an Aula Maxima, was launched. The conditions included details of existing demesne boundaries, topsoil and sunshine hours, student numbers and faculty needs.
Figure 3, Winning Design: In 1964, after judging 105 designs, the team of international assessors awarded the young Pole, Andrzej Wejchert (aged only 26) with 1st prize for his master-plan and designs for a new Arts-Commerce-Law building, an Administration building and an Aula Maxima.
Figure 4, Construction of Arts (Newman) Building, 1967-8 (photograph by Pieterse Davison, courtesy of A&D Wejchert): The engineers, Thomas Garland and the architects (Wejchert and Randal McDonnell) devised a waffle slab system for spanning the large interior spaces of Belfield’s first buildings. The slabs were made with formwork of fibre glass moulds
The Newman Building is an architecture of systems, from anodised bronze glazing to striped horizontal concrete panels which hold ducts containing heating pipes, electrical trunking, slots for fresh air intake and the safety track for window cleaning. Wejchert sought the whitest concrete using Wicklow granite and quartzite aggregate, always emphasising the horizontal elements
Figure 5, Administration (Tierney) Building, 1971 (photograph by Dominic Daly, 2019): The stairs of the Administration (Tierney) Building is the single grandest interior space on the Belfield campus. Dubbed UCD’s ‘nerve centre’ due to its vast hall for registration, the Administration or Tierney Building is more like UCD’s town hall containing multi-functions of President’s and administration offices, finance, postal and registration hub
Figure 6 – 6a, Restaurant Building, 1970 (photographs by Lily O’Donnell, 2019): UCD’s Restaurant Building is usually lauded Belfield’s best modernist structure. Awarded the RIAI Gold medal (1969/71), it was designed by Robin Walker (Scott Tallon Walker) and opened to students in 1970; riotously busy, it served 10,000 meals per day at times
Figure 7, Aerial view of the phase 1 of the campus, c.1980 showing the Agriculture Building, the lake and James Joyce Library, Phase 1, by Spence Glover Ferguson (photograph by Pieterse Davison, courtesy of A&D Wejchert).
Figure 8, Library Building, phase 1, Spence Glover Ferguson, 1967-73, main arcade (photograph by Pieterse Davison/Hunter Studio Edinburgh).
Figure 9, Water Tower with a dicky bow, 1986 (photograph by John Dorman Architects): Finished in 1972, Wejchert’s Water Tower is his most renowned Belfield structure, due to its remarkable geometry. This reinforced concrete dodecahedron, supported at its 60m height by a pentagonal stem, could hold 150,000 gallons of water. In 1986, a group of 2nd year architecture students built a large red dicky-bow and at night, installed it around the base of the dodecahedron in emulation of the original architect.
Figure 10, Original Sports Centre, Paddy Fletcher of A + D Wejchert, 1978-82, photograph by Pieterse Davison, courtesy of A + D Wejchert.
Dr Ellen Rowley
Assistant Professor/Lecturer in Modern Irish Architecture
School of Architecture
Architecture, Planning + Environmental Policy – UCD