Located in south Dublin, Elmpark, designed by architect firm Bucholz McEvoy, is a high-density, low-energy, mixed-use development. Covering around 70,000 sq m, it is framed by mountains, sea and an adjacent urban area.
The six, 8-storey buildings making up the new neighbourhood are set at right angles to a north-south communication route. Their carefully studied orientation allows full exploitation of direct sunlight and natural ventilation, which along with state of the art envelopes and plants allows primary energy reductions of some 60%. Two of the buildings are residential, three occupied by offices, while the last houses a day hospital and hotel.
The project is completed with a swimming pool, recreational area and housing for senior citizens.
Set amid luxuriant vegetation, all buildings stand on stilts. This frees up the ground level for an intricate network of pedestrian walkways and cycle paths, often running along watercourses, providing a healthy natural environment for work and outdoor living throughout the day.
Three on-site energy generators linked to heat pumps provide all the energy requirements of the whole area. Wood-pellet boilers provide hot water. Energy use has been rationalised and regulated. During the day, the plant gives precedence to the office buildings while at night it services the residential units. No energy is wasted since any excess goes to heating the swimming pool.
The steel and recycled glu-laminated timber structural frame has a glazed ventilated façade. Scale models were used to calculate how best to induce stack-effect natural air circulation and so eliminate assisted mechanical ventilation, with consequent energy savings.
The supporting pillars or stilts were also carefully studied to ensure natural lighting and ventilation to the underground garages lying below the buildings.
Carefully chosen technology, the right energy programme and good design have solved issues arising on account of the sheer size and extension of the project. The result is a new, user-friendly neighbourhood offering excellent quality-of-life standards.