McCullough Mulvin Architects

Beaufort Maritime and Energy Research Laboratory

Cork, Ireland - 2015
4. December 2017
Photo: Magnaparte (All photographs courtesy of v2com)
The project, a Maritime Energy Research and National Ocean Testing Facility located beside the Lower Harbour in Cork, Ireland, involves a tall element housing research spaces and a lower tank hall containing testing facilities.
Project: Beaufort Maritime and Energy Research Laboratory, 2015
Location: Lower Harbour, Ringaskiddy, Co. Cork
Client: University College Cork
Architect: McCullough Mulvin Architects
Project Manager: Valerie Mulvin
Contractor: JJ Rhattigan & Co.
Area: 5,350 m2
Photo: Magnaparte
Conceived as a stone outcrop on the edge of the water, subject to the action of wind and sea, the plan form is driven by the size and relationship of the four testing tanks, used alternately still or agitated with paddle mechanisms and profiled floorplates to simulate wave action, coastal erosion, ocean floor modelling. 
Photo: Christian Richters
A large volume, long span space is required to facilitate a slow balletic movement of heavy lifting gantry cranes, instrument bridges, access gangways, suspended camera equipment, people and forklifts moving independently over each other and travelling along and across each tank – thus a series of 45-meter-long trusses swing across the volume supporting a folded roof.
Photo: Christian Richters
Workshops cluster along the east side of the tank hall, indented for natural ventilation like gills of a fish or barnacles on a rock outcrop, while larger indents give access for deliveries (east) and people (west). Research spaces are stacked to the sea, open to light and views northwards.
Photo: Christian Richters
Continuing the indented nature of this addition on the edge of the Harbour, surfaces of the research tower are eroded deeply on north and east facades, analogous to the action of wind and water on driftwood, generating a series of indented planes on the elevation to the sea for windows and balconies.
Photo: Christian Richters
The roof is geometrically resolved as a series of mathematically generated planes triangulated into different slopes, reflecting the Z-shaped swing of the trusses over the tanks mapped onto the fixed points of the workshops. Tension between the folded form above and the captured volumes beneath present an oscillating rhythm, which intersects the serrated edges of the plan in a range of relationships. 
Photo: Christian Richters
Photo: Christian Richters
Photo: Ros Kavanagh
Photo: Christian Richters

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