The new headquarters for the Football Association of Ireland (FAI) is housed in a building formerly used as a research Laboratory. This single-storey building was completely stripped back to the raw structural frame. The original building plan was arranged around a square courtyard containing dense foliage and berm walls. The internal accommodation was contained within an inner and outer ring separated by a corridor formed by a series of inward facing U-shaped piers constructed from load-bearing concrete block-work.
The new layout is disciplined by the rigour of the existing structure and building grid.
The central corridor becomes the key feature of the building interior, the ‘streetscape’ and social core of the organisation, within which the occupants circulate and communicate. The U-shaped piers are clad in walnut panelling transforming them into framed recesses, where football memorabilia can be displayed or projects in hand can be communicated to all occupants as they circulate the building. Walnut panelling extends beyond the piers to form a continuous folding line which frames the glazed walls of the offices on either side. The plane of the glazed walls also steps forward and back on the inner and outer face of the U-shaped piers, broadening the corridor where access to departments and cross-circulation is focused. These folds, or steps, provide interest and dynamic to the circulation spine.
Daylight is brought into the corridor streetscape through extensive use of glass panels as well as through roof-lights positioned over the framed recesses.
The contrast of warm walnut panelling against the cool concrete distinguishes the existing structure from the new.
A series of ‘public spaces’ open from the corridor, further animating the streetscape and providing opportunities for informal meetings and social contact, places to drink coffee and watch soccer games.
Each of the four corridor corners are colour coded to help orientate the occupants.
Larger spaces, including the media room, restaurant and kit-room are located in the three enlarged corner volumes.
It was decided at an early stage of the project to leave the concrete soffit of the roof slab exposed allowing us to maximise the ceiling height and offering the benefit of natural cooling, assisted by perimeter ventilation. Linear light fittings are suspended from the concrete soffit and all other services (perimeter heating, fresh air, power, data etc.) are contained within the raised floor.
The external appearance of the exposed concrete frame was retained and in-filled with floor to ceiling glazing. The larger pitched roof corner volumes were re-clad in cedar boarding reflecting the wood and concrete palette of the building interior.