Pavilion Sean Dolans GAC

The Project
Seán Dolan’s Gaelic Athletic Club was formed in Creggan in 1942 in honour of local playwright, scholar, musician, linguist and lover of Gaelic games Seán Dolan. The club is an important community asset providing a place for the playing of Gaelic games, Irish music, song, dance and the Irish language.

Following an arson attack that raised the original premises to the ground the club secured funding for a new pavilion building comprising 4 changing rooms (each to accommodate 30 players), a referees changing room, physiotherapy room, accessible wc / changing room and a large flexible room for use by the club and local community.  The club requested that the building was robust and sure but also attractive and functional.

Farren architects where appointed to design this facility in October 2014.

The Context
The 16 acre site is situated on an elevated site to the North West of the medieval walls of Derry City within Creggan housing estate. At the time of our appointment a future development masterplan of the existing site had been completed by the client/club which would include 2 full sized grass playing fields, a synthetic playing field, a new community/changing pavilion and car parking. The proposed site for the pavilion was to the northern end of the grounds. To the north is an existing large car park and to the south is a new grass playing field. Its elevated position commands fine views of the playing fields and local landscape beyond.

The programme is arranged in 2 blocks either side of a generous central corridor. They are shifted against each other in plan to create open colonnades to the north and south. These create important places of transition from the outside to the inside. Changing rooms are accessed from the central corridor space – wet rooms to the corridor side and the changing spaces to the façade where they can benefit from natural light from clerestory windows. Glazing at both ends of the central corridor provides natural light and orientates the user in a simple clear manner within a rational layout. The community room is located to the south overlooking the playing field and the finer views over the landscape.

The building has a deliberately archaic building form. It is intended to recall the powerful singularity of the nearby stone ringfort of The Grianán Ailigh but also borrows from modernist representations of the earliest building forms such as Asplunds and Lewerentz’s Woodland Cemetery. It necessarily has a closed expression but this is offset by moments of generosity namely the colonnaded thresholds and large, carefully positioned windows.

The buildings form is readable so as to have a figurative meaning to the community affording a strong identity and presence. The form interprets a ringfort as signifying a ‘status symbol’ rather than a ‘defensive feature’ as the modern explanation of a ringfort would suggest, the building is a metaphor for the strength of the GAA in the local community providing a building with permanence, ambition and attraction.

The building is of cavity wall construction on strip foundations designed to accommodate a future first floor. On this rests a Trocal ‘S’ flat roofing system on thick insulation supported by a 200mm deep concrete slab.

The external skin is a deep red clay facing brick with a sand/cement mortar in a stretcher bond. Brick is also employed to the soffits of the colonnade with the installation of lightweight pre-fabricated brick slip ‘interlinking’ panels fixed to a timber MF substructure. This reinforces a sense of weight and permanence.

Internally, concrete blocks are simply painted and floors covered in plain ceramic tiles. Standard door sets and other joinery are installed directly and without fuss onto or into the blockwork.

Low level radiators positioned under benches heat the building using a natural gas source. Two separate gas fired boilers provide instant hot water at peak times for hot water demand. Ventilation is mechanical and primarily through roof mounted fans above wet areas. A large ceiling void contains the extensive electric and plumbing works which is linked to a dedicated plant room.


December 22, 2015

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