A new engineering building has been opened today by An Taoiseach Enda Kenny at NUI Galway, the largest of its kind in Ireland, and cutting edge in terms of green technology.
The building has been designed to be a teaching tool in itself, with exposed construction techniques and an array of ecological building methods.
From September, the four-storey architectural gem and its 400 rooms will accommodate some 1,100 students and 110 staff. The 14,250 sq-metre building will support an emerging generation of engineers, engaged in a new wave of technologies, embracing innovation and entrepreneurship.
NUI Galway offers a degree in energy systems engineering, and has a significant focus on research into environmental technologies. The engineering building itself contains a range of ‘green’ technologies, which will add to the hands-on learning experience for students. There is large-scale rainwater harvesting, a biomass boiler, low-embodied energy materials, such as zinc, grass roofs for water attenuation, heat exchangers and many other cutting-edge technologies.
The structure is among the first in Ireland to employ the use of voided slab systems. The innovation introduces ‘plastic bubbles’ into the concrete, reducing the weight and quantity of concrete used.
Areas of the building, such as the plant room, will be accessible to showcase to students the industrial biomass boiler and combined heat and power unit at work.
According to Kenny, who studied at the university in the mid-Seventies: "Engineering has a long and proud tradition at NUI Galway and this magnificent new building is a fine example of how the university is responding to the changing needs in today’s world. This new building begins a new era for engineering students here in Galway and will have far reaching impacts at local, national and international level."
The building was developed at a cost of of about €40m, funded through Government funds, university sources and the generous support of individual donors and companies by way of the Galway University Foundation. Situated on the banks of the River Corrib, the building was designed by award-winning architects RMJM from Scotland in partnership with Mayo-based Taylor Architects, to complement the curves of Galway’s most famous river.