Our Masterplan for Dundalk Institute of Technology called for the creation of a core outdoor plaza in the heart of the overall campus. This space would create a focus to the link between the original campus to the North, the recently renovated Carroll’s Building (Designed by the late Ronnie Tallon) and further land to the South. The Campus Restaurant and Theatre sits in the new plaza and provides a centerpiece for student social activity.
The restaurant is designed with a ‘transparent’ facade promoting interaction with the square and enhancing a lively student environment. The building envelope expresses the system of passive heating and cooling on the south west façade in the form of large louvres which feed fresh air to internally exposed air-handling units, which are hi-lighted in bright vibrant colours. The light filled refectory style restaurant incorporates inspiring messaging as part of the design where students and academic staff can meet and eat in a lively atmosphere. Easily visible from the building is the college wind turbine which is the world’s first large commercial wind turbine on a college campus. It provides 50% of the electricity required to run the entire campus.
The concept of a true ‘Black Box’ theatre – an avant-garde style of theatre which usually produces experimental or alternative works – was exactly in line with Tomás Mac Anna’s own vision for a theatre, whom it is named after. The intimate ‘Black Box’ style theatre allows for maximum flexibility to facilitate productions. It caters for the needs of current and future students and staff of the Institute, forming a regional performance and cultural venue.
“We believed in the importance of this theatre for DkIT and the district and fought hard to bring the project to fruition. We wanted to create a space where imagination and creative drama productions would not be constrained by the actual building itself. The ‘Black Box’ principle allows for a blank space – or box – to be easily adapted for creative ideas. This was the basic concept from which the design grew. It’s very satisfying, especially in these straightened times, that the cultural value of such a building is identified and that this theatre is considered a suitable memorial to the great Tomás MacAnna. Financial constraints threatened the actual development of the theatre but by working with Bennett Developments we found a way to make building the theatre feasible.“
Architect: van Dijk Architects