Printing House Square Student Accommodation, Trinity








D&B with Bennett Construction

DBFL provided civil and structural engineering services as part of the Design & Build Team with Bennett Construction for this gateway project for Trinity College Dublin. The D&B project team including OMP Architects and IN2 Engineering Design Partnership, worked in close collaboration with McCullough Mulvin Architects who were responsible for the exemplar architectural design.


While a civil and structural exemplar design was provided for the superstructure (excluding roof structure) at tender competition stage, DBFL reviewed the exemplar design and proposed an alternative reinforced concrete column and flat slab solution for the superstructure.


This development provides a new student hub on the Trinity College Dublin city-centre campus, and consists of a student medical and welfare facility, 250 units of student accommodation and commercial spaces in the 6 storeys above ground level, and multi sports facilities and estate management spaces in the three levels below ground. The sports facilities include squash courts and a handball alley, and the estate management spaces include workshops, plant and storage spaces.


The structure is deceptively complex with 17 different floor slab levels catered for between ground floor and B3 level. This complexity carries through to it unique and innovative multi pitched and multi-faceted stone clad roof structure. Designed aesthetically to simulate the distant Dublin mountains, the roof structure fit into the Dublin cityscape with its rocky peaks. This highly complex project on a restricted site, in a busy city centre location, on a busy operational third level campus was successfully delivered in 2022.


The complexity of the roof was the biggest design challenge on this project, the multi-pitched, multi-faceted roof profiles plus the fact that the springing points for some pitches of the roof extended down to fourth and third floor levels created a challenging profile.


The primary roof structure consists of a series of steel frames spanning from one side of the building to the other. The profile of each of these frames is unique in each location and there is no repetition in the frame profile anywhere across the three roof structures. Each frame is in itself, multi-faceted to cater for the constantly changing planes across the roofs. Additional steelwork members running between the frames captured the framing of the different roof planes.


This building is unique in that it is fully clad (walls and roof) in stone. To cater for the stone clad roof, an innovative double steel frame support solution was adopted, with a secondary steel cladding support frame stub fixed back to the primary roof structure. The weathering line for the roof is above the primary steel frame but below the cladding support framework. The roof design is unique, and the innovative and creative approach taken to its design has resulted in a solution that achieves the design intent with finesse and excellence.


DBFL is keenly aware of the impact design decisions have on resources, energy demands and the environment, and are committed to ensuring these decisions have the most positive environmental effect possible.


Careful consideration was given to the materials used in the design of Printing House Square, and equally to ensuring that the materials were used as efficiently as possible. In-house expertise in modelling structures using finite element analysis software, maximised efficiencies and reduced material volumes to achieve a lean and efficient structural solution. Also GGBS was used extensively in the concrete mixes towards reducing the carbon footprint of the building.


In terms of surface water management, rainwater harvesting, attenuation and controlled discharge rates were adopted, and these and the material efficiencies feed into Printing House Square achieving a rating of BREAM excellent.


DBFL are signatories to the Association of Consulting Engineers of Ireland’s (ACEI) Pledge to Net Zero and are members of Irish Green Building Council (IGBC) and proactively pursue sustainable designs for all projects.


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