McCullough Mulvin Architects - Printing House Square, like a mountain range
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Printing House Square, like a mountain range

McCullough Mulvin Architects

Education  /  Completed
McCullough Mulvin Architects

McCullough Mulvin Architects were appointed after winning a limited competition.Trinity College Dublin, founded 1592, is Ireland’s most historic University, a series of interlocked courtyards of historic buildings in the centre of Dublin. The project creates the first new Square in Trinity in 200 years. The concept makes a new courtyard and forms a new gateway to the city which improves permeability. The site includes the significant 18th century Printing House: our scheme had to create a sensitive intervention appropriate to its scale. 250 student bedrooms with shared living/kitchen/dining spaces were required, to give a high quality experience of living on campus; also required -the College Health and Disability Services and a Sports Centre. The scheme is a nearly zero energy efficient building with a huge sustainability focus.

Due to the proximity of the Printing House, the building’s form was like a mountain range, a folded granite roof reflecting mountains in distant view and-closer- ordinary Georgian roofs in the city. It establishes a strong formal material relationship between contemporary architecture & historic fabric, with blind stone gables folding around the 18thc Printing House’s Classical temple architecture to create a rocky landscape setting, allowing the Printing House retain precedence on campus. The courtyard form and new gateway to the city are significant gestures linking city and university communities. The building’s materiality reflect its form: board-marked concrete working plinth supporting a granite-clad upper world. Glimpses from the courtyard via landscaped cuts view facilities below.

Printing House Square intensifies development on this precious city centre site. Intensive use of site suggested deep basements for indoor sports, cutting away structure brings daylight deep into Health and Disability Services. Orientation reduces overheating potential, blind south elevations reduce heat gains.The building is BREEAM Excellent with 5 key sustainability strategies: solar panels, CHP, heat pumps, rainwater harvesting, natural ventilation. Each room has high and low opening windows, energy monitoring on screens in each household encourages reduction of energy usage.Materials were selected for sustainability: natural stone cladding extends service life of the building; linoleum floors, Ecocem concrete is used throughout, exposed where feasible, timber used is from certified sustainable sources.

Printing House Square is the first square to be built in the historic context of Trinity College for 200 years.The courtyard form provides high quality student spaces; health; disability services; and a sports centre - its stone roof folding to provide an intimate context around the 18thc Printing House. In the courtyard, a podium level mediates level difference between city and College, held back along interior facades edges, with bridges across to four House entrances. This brings sunlight to Health and Disability services, creating a private setting for healthcare and a more dynamic atmosphere to the level above. Households of 6 to 8 students share a kitchen/living/dining space in 4 houses–a total of 250 bedspaces– which float over Health Centre, Disability Services - all naturally lit - and Sports Centre(squash, handball, triathlon training). A huge variety of environments create appropriate settings for people of all abilities and needs – from lower convivial households of rooms where younger students meet, live and play together, to more monastic top floor which fold calm volumetric rooms into roofspaces like Paris garrets with uplifting views through tiny granite courtyards. Trinity College’s policies of inclusivity are focused on creating optimum conditions for students and staff to live, work and learn. The building enshrines these principles. All levels are accessible via gentle slopes, ramps and external lifts: levels are carefully judged with light and air throughout the whole.

McCullough Mulvin responded to client aspirations with an exceptional visual & operational design. The architecture attracts universal praise from the College community due to the originality of its roof, active engagement with the old Printing House, & creation of the new square. Students note the apartments are a delight to use, creating warm & vivid environment for College life, countering isolation & encouraging sustainable use. It adds an exciting visual & living experience to the College.


 Trinity College Dublin
 student residences, sport and well-being facilities
 12100 mq
 Design Architects: McCullough Mulvin Architects, Delivery Architects: OMP
 Structural Engineers: O’Connor Sutton Cronin, Mechanical & Electrical Engineers: J. V. Tierney & Co., Environmental & Sustainability Consultants: SES Ltd & Cundall, Quantity Surveyors: Linesight, Landscape Architects: Stephen Diamond Associates
 Bennett (Construction) Ltd
 Christian Richters, Ros Kavanagh


McCullough Mulvin Architects are based in Dublin and work internationally. Our projects express a deeply held belief that one of the purposes of architecture is to explore place and time in context, whether that context is a city, a site, or an existing building. Our understanding of, and respect for, history is evident in a portfolio of work which balances the materiality of fine old fabric against appropriate contemporary interventions.
Valerie Mulvin and Niall McCullough founded McCullough Mulvin Architects in 1986, joined by fellow directors Ruth Herlihy in 2006, and Corán O’Connor in 2017. Tragically, Niall McCullough died in 2021 after a short illness. We now work to honour all of the core principles founded early in the practice, continuing the established ethos in work across many sectors. Our projects include cultural buildings, healthcare, schools and university buildings, housing, offices, hotels - all with a focus on place-making, context and innovative conservation.

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