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