BUILDINGS AS ROUTES – TRINITY COLLEGE DUBLIN
“The body moves through space every day, and in architecture in cities that can be orchestrated. Not in a dictatorial fashion, but in a way of creating options, open-ended sort of personal itineraries within a building. And I see that as akin to cinematography or choreography, where episodic movement, episodic moments, occur in dance and film.” – Antoine Predock
Throughout the history of architecture, buildings have been designed to channel and influence the way people move and flow throughout a space. When buildings start to have a dialogue with each other they take on even more power as a guiding system. This phenomena of buildings as routes or paths, both within and outside their enclosure, are well represented by our modern day college campuses. Trinity Dublin Campus is an exemplary example, guiding thousands of students, and tourists alike, each day through complex spaces within a large campus. As a prime example within the city of Dublin, this project examines the campus of Trinity College and its buildings and spaces, and the movement that happens within it. When evaluating college campuses, you often find two strong characterizations; the dense urban campus and the larger rustic ones. Enclosed from the city by a large black gate around the perimeter of the campus, Trinity College manages to synthesize the two, keeping the country feel even within the cities center. This is one of the amazing qualities that have made the campus a tourist staple for Dublin. But even more important is the campus layout, focusing on inward facing large quadrangles. That, combined with limited public entrances, gives the campus its quiet feel and tranquil atmosphere. The main grounds are large being embedded within a dense city, totaling almost 47 acres. The actual composition itself is made up of old and modern architecture alike; Nassau and Pearse Street border the entrance to the school.
For data collection and research, I visited the campus and observed people’s movements, tracking them through sketches and diagrams and pictures. Using a hand-drawn map of Trinity College, I represented movement throughout the campus with the method of dots/stippling. Through much observation and campus research, it can be seen that the campus layout encompasses the movement of its occupiers, causing the movement to flow like water, with its buildings serving as partial routes throughout the campus.
STREET EDGE & REGENT HOUSE
The Regent House, located on the west part of Trinity College along College Green, acts as the central entrance to the campus, regulating the flow of people between the enclosed college and the city. This is where my visitation and observations of Trinity College began. The ‘Front Gate’ (Regent House entrance) to the college grounds was built in the 1750s and is guarded by large statues on either side. This is a large, stone, symmetrical building with columns that sits almost right along the street edge. It feels very significant and imposing, very much like a high-guarded entrance that does not seem too welcoming to outsiders. The tall black metal fence surrounding the campus parts where for the entrance were there is a large wooden door with a smaller, regular sized door carved into the middle, which makes it feel like the pedestrians are being funneled into the building. It then opens up inside into a large, partially enclosed foyer with two smaller doors flanking the space on either side, which can access the north and south wings of the building, yet still appear unwelcoming with no one going near them. Through the foyer, students and tourists pass through, like a tunnel, spreading out after being squeezed through the rather small opening in the large fortress-like building. Looking forward and venturing further through the Regent House, it opens up even further onto a large open outdoor space, where people disperse even further. The Regent House acts as an authoritative, funnel-shaped gateway from the busy city to the tranquil atmosphere, funneling a large amount of people from the busy street edge to the peaceful open campus. Because the building serves as a central entrance, the Regent House as a route regulates large amounts of movement throughout the day.
“…mode of experimental behavior linked to the conditions of urban society: a technique of transient passage through varied ambiences. Also used to designate a specific period of continuous deriving.” – Situationist International
The Regent House, or ‘Front Gate’, opens up onto the large, open space called Parliament Square. This is where the Regent House funnels outward, people continuing walking and spreading out in different directions. Parliament Square is the central court of the campus grounds, surrounded by the large wings of the Regent House, giving off the feel of being in a dense fortress, completely closed off from the busy streets of Dublin. The enclosed square is made up of stone and contains green spaces, also closed off, discouraging people to walk on the grass. These closed off green spaces near the Regent House appear to continue the funnel-function further, giving the movement three different directions before letting the flow go in any direction. Once the flow of people get past the green spaces, they disperse in different directions, either along-side the buildings or cutting through the middle of the open space. The movement through the open space is random, making the tracing of movement scattered and un-uniformed. In the middle of the large, open court stands the tall Campanile, acting as sort of another, less-official, entrance to the eastern half of the large court, also containing two rectilinear, closed-off green spaces. Since the flow of people walking around is scattered, the movement becomes less dense and busy as people head off on various paths, continuing the funnel from the street edge, towards the middle of the campus grounds. The square also acts as an open, connecting space between the college buildings, where to movement of people continue.
The Old Library flanks the central court along the southern edge, acting as part of the enclosure to the open space. This Trinity College library is the largest research library in Ireland and is home to the famous Book of Kells. Star Wars also used the design of the old library as the Jedi Archive in the ‘Star Wars Episode II: Attach of the Clones’ movie. The library, built in the early 1700s, is essentially composed of the 65-meter long main chamber, the ‘Long Room’, a large, vaulted open space running through the middle of the building and lined with massive bookshelves on both sides. Movement through the space is mostly through the center, the sides often being restricted to stationary students, seated or otherwise. Through observation, I noticed that people do not travel through the building as a continuous route across the campus and its outdoor spaces. Instead they move through just the building itself, mostly along the east-west axis. This space takes on a unique identity apart from the campus as a whole, not valued as a passage, but as a destination. As such, the building’s effects as a route are separated between internal and external conditions, both operating on different people, and having entirely different effects. This makes the building not as walking/route-friendly or permeable as other spaces in Trinity College. However, through representation of movement, the library appears to contain its own flow of people within its interior. An unexpected result, only realized through hands on observation and graphics analysis.
Through observation, The Arts Building of Trinity College is considered to be one of the most “buildings as routes” categories.
“Built as an Arts faculty building and containing lecture theatres and seminar rooms, libraries, an art gallery and administration and social facilities for both staff and students. The building was originally constructed between in the 1970s. The building has two distinct elevations – one to Fellows Square, which it forms with the Old Library and the Berkeley Library, and one to Nassau Street where it is set back from the street behind the high railings” (Archiseek.com).
The building was created within the context of an expanding university structure, and also as another major connecting point between the city and the campus. A lot of the movement on campus takes place in and around the Arts Building, making it a central structure. Acting as another gateway like the Regent House, it regulates the flow of people between the quite campus and the busy streets of Dublin; the building also serves as a route between libraries as well, making the Arts Building a high-traffic space. Therefore, the building serves as multiple routes from the city to campus, and from campus to different spaces and the libraries. From observing the flow of people within the building, many are walking through, or also standing in groups conversing or seated against the walls reading, doing homework, etc. As seen on the image, the flow of movement is scattered, in a sort of organized chaos, each person having their own intention and directionality of travel. This makes the Arts Building one of the strongest buildings on campus in walking and permeability and as an overall route-driven designed building.
BERKELEY LIBRARY & USSHER LIBRARY
The Berkeley and Ussher Libraries connect on the west side of the Arts Building, continuing the route through the Arts Building and both libraries.
“The Berkeley Library building caused some issues at first when built inside Trinity’s grounds next to Burgh’s Library building. The Library is set back from the existing building line created by Deane and Woodward’s Museum and the old Library, thus creating a new raised public space. In addition, the side elevation closes off the new square created between the Long Library and the Arts Block along Nassau Street.”
“The Ussher Library is sited between the Berkeley Library and Nassau Street with the park and the Arts Block on either side. The new building is the result of a competition won by the collaborating project from McCullough Mulvin and KMD Architecture. The interior of the Library is dominated by the atrium than spans the height of the building from the basement Journals Room through to the top – eight levels in all. Off this are the book stacks and the reading areas. The top floor reading areas overlook the College Park with the majority of the book stacks on the Arts Block side of the building. Glass-fronted balconies open on to the atrium from every level, permitting both light and air to circulate freely through the entire space.”
Since these three buildings connect, they form a long route for people to travel through, either entering or exiting through the Berkeley Library main entrance. Together, these three buildings create a long, multi-directional route through the southwest part of the campus grounds.
TRINITY COLLEGE DUBLIN CAMPUS
Some buildings, more obvious than others, have developed the concept of the human body moving through architecture even further and strive to integrate many aspects of human movement and relationships within space. Through research and observation, and the methods used for this project, the campus of Trinity College holds to the “buildings as routes” statement. Even though the large, spacious campus is embedded within a dense city center, it still maintains its own peaceful atmosphere. It gives off the feel of venturing through a busy city but then stumbling abruptly to a large fortress-like gatehouse, going through a tunnel, and finding a large, open oasis amongst all the brick buildings that surround it. One loses itself from the city of Dublin, as if Trinity College is its own world. These buildings are all good examples of how architecture can be designed around the movement of people while encouraging socialization along with an overall influence on human interaction within a space.
“Men can see nothing around them that is not their own image; everything speaks to them of themselves. Their very landscape is alive.” – Karl Marx
“1968 – Arts Block, Trinity College Dublin – Architecture of Dublin City – Archiseek.com.” Archiseek.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Dec. 2013. <http://archiseek.com/2010/1968-arts-block-trinity-college-dublin/>.
Ford, Simon. The Situationist International: A User’s Guide. London: Black Dog, 2005. Print.
Mitchell, Lynn, and Elizabeth Mayes. Trinity College Dublin: A Beautiful Place. Dublin: Trinity College Dublin, 2000. Print.
Mulligan, Fergus. Trinity College Dublin: A Walking Guide. Dublin: Trinity College Library, 2010. Print.
“Trinity College Dublin.” – The University of Dublin, Ireland. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Dec. 2013. <http://www.tcd.ie/>.
“Trinity College Dublin, Arts Faculty Building.” Abk Architects. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Dec. 2013. <http://abkdublin.com/portfolio/trinity-college-dublin-arts-faculty-building/>.