Best Practices in Educational Facilities Investments

Arus Moyola, National University of Ireland, Galway Campus, Galway, Ireland

Exemplary design categories: access, flexible learning settings, science laboratories

How the facility meets the needs of education and communities:
The objective of this project was to design light, spacious, flexible spaces that could be used for a variety of teaching, social and other purposes. The building provides a centre for learning for various faculties with different needs, including nursing and midwifery. The clinical skills laboratories provide a flexible a space that can be used to simulate a range of hospital and community environments. The design of the laboratories combines, light, space storage and technology in a way that facilitates creative and imaginative approaches to the development of practical skills. The flat structure of some of the teaching spaces and the type of furniture means that the rooms can be adapted for different purposes, e.g. meetings, poster presentations, group work, examinations and lectures. The student areas are embedded into the fabric of the building, such that many spaces can be used for sitting, studying and learning. The self-directed clinical skills room, for example, provides students with an area to study and practice clinical skills outside scheduled class time.

The building is divided into 2 wings connected by a glazed atrium which acts as a focal point in the building: it is the main entrance and principal vertical circulation point. The atrium is set back between the 2 blocks to form an entrance court on the eastside and on landscaped internal garden courtyard on the west side, which allows for nearly all of the building to be naturally ventilated and benefit from natural daylighting. There are automatic ventilation controls on the windows and automatic controls on the lighting system.

The nursing block on the north side has a stone façade opposite the existing protected structure and is finished off on the east end with a curved lecture theatre. This lecture theatre is placed next to the front entrance with the shape expressed as a separate external form and clad in contrasting material to the main parts of the building. The pre-patinated copper cladding reflects the sylvan setting, providing a strong recognisable landmark feature at the entrance of the building. A plant dedicated to the lecture room is located directly beneath to minimise service runs and reduce plant noise within the lecture theatre. The other block on the south side accommodates the social and political science and therapies faculty. There is a public clinic on the ground floor with a separate entrance on the west side. The south side of the building is shielded from solar gain & glare with aluminium “bris soliel”.

The classrooms, computer suite and lecture theatre and lecture rooms have state of the art technology, are comfortable for students and Lecturers and have audio visual equipment that can facilitate a wide range of teaching learning strategies. The design of the large lecture rooms enable the rooms to be used for many different activities, workshops, poster displays as well as lecturers. The innovative use of storage contributes to this flexibility.

Because of the specific user profile and the commitment of the Client to universal access, the Design Team adopted the NDA “Building for Everyone” as a minimum design criteria post planning permission. As a result Arus Moyola has passenger lift 1500 x 1500 allowing for wheelchair turning as compared to reverse entry or exit; 1500 wide corridors (wheelchair turning circle) widened to 1800 at locations to allow passing; induction loops in all teaching spaces; enlarged wheelchair refugee areas in stairwells; doors are 950mm clear opes, assisted WCs; clear access space of 500mm at 98% of all door handles; Braille signage; wheelchair access to upper and lower levels of tiered lecture theatre; shower facilities in all WC locations (including disabled WC) for cyclists, joggers, etc.; and direct access to all roofs from stairwell or common area.

Involvement of users and the local community in the planning and design process:
A public meeting was arranged for interested residents of the neighborhood to review the design prior to the lodging of the application for planning permission.

Activity Areas: Academic offices and teaching areas, including 3 large lecture rooms, 19 seminar rooms, 3 tutorial rooms, 6 specialist skills rooms, 3 computer rooms and 3 post-graduate rooms.

Project costs: EUR 18,000,000.00

Source: Submitted to OECD for "Designing for Education: Compendium of Exemplary Educational Facilities 2011" in 2010

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User perspectives (2)

"When you enter Aras Moyola you are struck by the light and sense of space. The building is bright, spacious and well ventilated making it comfortable and good place to work and study. The design of the building has allowed maximum flexibility, for example, the flat structure of some of the teaching spaces and the type of furniture used, means that the rooms can be adapted for different purposes, e.g., meetings, poster presentations, group work, examinations and lectures. The student areas are embedded into the fabric of the building, the space is used creatively so that there are areas for sitting, studying and learning. The building contributes to the facilitation of learning by maximising opportunities for staff and students to work together. “This is a great building to work in. The teaching spaces are flexible and are easily convertible from formal to informal layouts to facilitate more interactive teaching sessions. There is also a sense of coherence and integrity in the design of the building, for example, there are spaces where students can sit and chat, study or work on shared project. This is very much in tune with the teaching philosophy of the School of Nursing and Midwifery which recognises that not all learning takes place in a formal setting. I also appreciate the sense of spaciousness, the light and the "airy feeling of this building.”
Adeline
“The open spaces with the casual seating areas that are darted around the building provide a student friendly environment for both socialising and small group working. In addition the large open foyer streams in natural light to give the building a bright and cheery feel making it a very positive place for students to relax around in.”
Bernard

Images (5)

Drawings (4)

Ground floor plan (Registration required)
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Cross section (Registration required)
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Site plan (Registration required)
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Furniture plan (Registration required)
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