In teasing out the various possibilities, A2’s Peter Carroll and Caomhán Murphy went back to the 1982 competition designs for St Killian’s and discovered a promising site strategy among one of the losing entries. Peter and Mary Doyle, who designed the country’s most famous community school at Birr, County Offaly, in 1980, had proposed a giant ramp to link the upper and lower parts of the difficult site in Clonskeagh. A2 borrowed the spirit of the Doyles’ idea and ran with it.
“We had both worked on schools before,” says Carroll. “So we knew that as the classrooms themselves are very tightly regulated, you have to work hard at the in-between spaces, particularly the external spaces, to provide the necessary quality. That simple infrastructural move – the big ramp – was the key to uniting the whole school.” It created a legible spine linking all of the building entrances on the campus.
Sloped sites usually create extra costs but by using the ramp to take up the height difference between the two parts of the site, A2 could also bring construction costs in line with those of a standard site.
The original school building is a long, low, pitch-roofed structure running east-west near the front of the site. The image it was after in the 1980s was one that would fit in with its suburban surroundings – an enormous bungalow. Eurocampus, on the other hand, is more sophisticated and elegantly simple. The large, stepped forecourt is framed by a deep, tall canopy sheltering a civic-scaled entrance.