Naas, Co. Kildare, Ireland
Architect: HGA Architects and Engineers
Owner: Kerry Group PLC
Contractor: Gilbane Building Company
The project site is a highly visible 38 acre parcel with 360 degrees of visibility. Nestled in shallow valley with farmland to the north and distant views to the iconic Wicklow mountains, the site affords an opportunity to rest lightly on the land and capture the beauty of its surroundings.
The 240,000 square foot space program includes European corporate offices and amenities for 900 people, research and development labs, customer suites, and an application pilot plant.
The site solution positions the building and parking on a manicured and sculpted green carpet – an interpretation of the land patterns of country farm fields. Staff parking is located north of the building and is shielded from the motorway by an existing dense hedgerow. The building’s all-glass first floor lightly touches this green carpet and allows the landscape and views to pass through the building.
Corporate and business offices and research and development are expressed as solid volumes of buff colored terra cotta that are framed with end walls and a roof edge of dark composite metal panel. These two materials are separated by tall vertical voids of glass that house the building’s stair towers. These towers glow at night and balance the horizontality of the assembly. Horizontal ribbon windows in buildings A and C provide a uniform level of daylighting in the office and laboratory spaces.
The building’s exterior palette references regional vernacular materials in a modern way. The Terra cotta tile cladding was chosen for its refined and modest quality and its reference to vernacular stone barns. The painted metal panel end walls and roof edge frame the terra cotta and define the building on the horizon.
The customer suites, located in a cantilevered volume on the south side of the building, announce themselves to the frontage road and form a covered visitor entry. This dark framed volume is contrasted by the building cores in reflective white glass. The blender-like stair, skylit from above, was designed to encourage communication and foster collaboration between groups and sits between the white glass volumes. Large conference rooms complete the building.
The central utility plant and loading dock is clad in composite metal panel with a large scale terra cotta screen that also serves as a sign. The engineered systems are finely tuned to optimize energy performance and include a solar hot water system, and a combined heat and power plant.
Photos: Donal Murphy Photography, HGA and Gilbane