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Connolly Vaults | Stewart Construction : Fit Out or Refurbishment up to €10m

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Project: Connolly Vaults
Client: Irish Rail
Contractor: Stewart Construction
Design Team: O’Connell Mahon Architects; Horgan Lynch (Engineering)
Project Description: Fit out of 1,400m2 of Connolly Vaults to provide office space and occupational health facilities within the existing building structure.

Originally built in the mid-19th Century (1844-46), the Connolly Vaults is built with a combination of clay brick barrel vaulting on random rubble coursed granite walls, with brick dressed arches and openings. An important part of Dublin’s architectural heritage and a protected structure, the Vaults once acted as storage for both the port and the rail company in the city. In more recent years, it was home to a popular bar and nightclub, but fell into disrepair since being vacated in 2012. The unit will now be used as a cutting edge medical centre/doctors surgery by Irish Rail for their staff. There are four doctors rooms (with associated nurses rooms) as well as ECG, eye and hearing rooms. Staff facilities include offices, a meeting room and a canteen.

Refurbishment works encompassed a full strip of existing services, including an upgrade of the facade, protection of the existing historical structure and fit out of the space to convert it to a medical facility, with associated consultation rooms, offices, ablutions, and staff canteen. A new VRF system and plant, as well as new gas-fired water heater within the existing Irish Rail plant room.

Irish Rail management engaged O’ Connell Mahon Architects as the lead designers for the project. The design produced by OCMA retained the exposed granite and brick fabric in common and office areas while also incorporating modern finishes to the fit for purpose Nurse and Doctor surgeries.

There were a number of challenges throughout the project, significantly, the need to maintain the architectural integrity of the building while making it suitable as a contemporary health care centre. The requirement to protect the original stonewalls gave rise to unique solutions for routing and supporting services. There were restrictions on the plant space due to the limited space within the vaults, and with only one external façade, lighting and access to fresh air were additional challenges

Stewart Construction worked closely with suppliers to specify a VRF plant system to function within an internal space and ducted onto external louvres. Collaboration with the design team as well as the construction team meant the services were carefully routed through the building and largely co-ordinated on site. The existing ducts and manholes were used where possible to route services.

The unit is also accessed from the enclosed walkway linking Amiens Street and Harbourmaster Place. This was formerly an entrance/exit route from the unit and is being retained as an exit route

In collaboration with Stewart Construction, OCMA have successfully executed the Project, producing this modern fit-for-purpose facility for CIÉ. The repurposing of the space within an existing historic building is a prime example of Sustainability in practice. While ensuring the conservation of this regionally significant building, the vision of the project collaborators, including stakeholders, client, designers and construction company, has led to its continued use and importance in its place in the city of Dublin.