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My concept ‘Shafts of Light’ was inspired after completing my thesis research in our nations children’s homes. Just like adults, children are heavily impacted by their surroundings. The ability to socialise and explore new environments safely playing a major role in their mental and physical development. This can be extremely challenging for children and parents in our urban environments that often lack suitable amenities to help inspire and educate our youth outside of school hours.
Dealing with an existing structure presented interesting challenges and forced me to find creative solutions. It was important that we created light filled, efficient spaces that allowed us to create dedicated spaces for the children and the parents. This new development is aimed at shielding the children from the harsh urban environment they are normally forced to occupy. Dedicated spaces for music, art, theatre, and swimming as well as a café on the ground floor would make this a multifunctional project suitable to a wide range of children.
Sustainable design was a major focus when reimagining this development. This was achieved through a variety of methods. The goal to reducing waste was accomplished by banning the use of plastic bottles and vending machines. Biodegradable coffee and water cups would be substituted in their place. Solar gain and maximisation of natural light sources via clearstories and skylights allowing light to penetrate the building. The roof surrounding the pool area will use green roofing to help insulate the building and improve flood management. The roof will also house solar panels to help contribute to the building’s energy needs.
A complete redesign of the buildings upper floor was proposed to create a glass ceiling spanning a rooftop pool. Not only give us stunning vistas of Dublin city but it also elevates the children above the busy streets where they can be thought to swim and have fun with friends in this light filled oasis. A juice bar adjacent to the pool further supports a healthy lifestyle and foregoes the use of sugar filled vending machines normally placed in public pool lobbies.
Sun loungers and a towel station allow parents to relax as they watch their children swim or receive lessons. The interior of pool will be well light to counteract solar glare on the water’s surface making the pool safer for lifeguards to watch over.
A juice bar adjacent to the pool further supports a healthy lifestyle and foregoes the use of sugar filled vending machines normally placed in public pool lobbies. This bar has the added benefit of creating additional revenue streams for the building and it is possible the pool and bar could be rented for children’s parties. Green walls are used to wrap concrete columns supporting biophilic design further aiding wellbeing.
Structural columns have been hidden with use of decorative arches. These arches also help cocoon sofas to create some privacy. The central columns have wrapped on two levels with the first acting as a bench for smaller children and the top acting as a table for parents to sit at. This creates additional seating inside the café. Due to a bus stop directly visible from the cafes windows it is also envisioned they will gain customers in want of takeaway coffees.
A soft play area located inside the café will allow parents to meet and unwind as children can play together. The play area is located at the back of the café to reduce the risk of wandering children leaving the café unnoticed. A soft floor also helping protect young children from bumps and falls.