Beaufort Maritime & Energy Research Laboratory

PrizeWinner in Architectural Design / Educational Buildings
Firm LocationDublin, Ireland
CompanyMcCullough Mulvin Architects
Lead ArchitectValerie Mulvin
Design Team
ClientUniversity College Cork

The Maritime Energy Research and National
Ocean Testing Facility, located beside the Lower
Harbour in Cork, involves a tall element housing
research spaces, and a lower tank hall containing
testing facilities. 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.
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 45m long trusses swing across
the volume supporting a folded roof. Workshops
cluster along the east side of the tank hall,
indented for natural ventilation, while larger
indents give access for deliveries (east) and
people (west). Research spaces are stacked to
the sea, open to light and views northwards.
The roof is geometrically resolved as a series of
mathematically generated planes triangulated
into different slopes, reflecting the Z-shaped
swing of