UCD Health Sciences Centre
The UCD Health Sciences Centre is a phased project that combines the disciplines of medicine, nursing, midwifery, physiotherapy and diagnostic imaging, into one building. Phase I and II of the project are now complete. This has enabled the relocation of the constituent disciplines from Earlsfort Terrace, Ballsbridge, St Vincent’s University Hospital and the Mater Misericordiae University Hospital to UCD’s Belfield campus.
The amalgamation of these disciplines into one location marks the substantial completion of UCD’s objective to consolidate and reinforce the teaching and research agendas. It coincides with a parallel strategy that created from Faculties the School of Nursing, Midwifery & Health Systems, the School of Medicine & Medical Science (incorporating diagnostic imaging), the School of Physiotherapy & Performance Science, and the School of Biomolecular & Biomedical Science.
These Schools, alongside the new Health Sciences Library and the soon to be completed Medical Bureau of Road Safety in Phase III will comprise UCD’s flagship Health Sciences Centre.
Murray Ó Laoire Architects were appointed in 2002 to create an expandable complex, capable of hosting the constituent disciplines. The national initiative by the Department of Health and Children and the Higher Education Authority to provide capital funding for nursing infrastructure within the higher education sector gave rise to Phase I of the project, and this was an important catalyst for the further development of Phase II. The finished product uniquely draws the health science disciplines together but also allows each discipline to individually flourish. It also represents a community healthcare education and research resource that mirrors the relationship between healthcare practitioners in society.
The building is designed in the shape of a horseshoe, where the Schools surround the central library building which is separated by an atrium and an attenuation pond. The main building extends over four floors, with the ground floors consisting of lecture theatre and classroom facilities, an open access computer suite, IT services centre, social space and the Health Science’s café.
The first floor consists of classrooms, student resource and meeting rooms. A central space allocation system applies, leading to the sharing of physical resources between disciplines and Schools.
The second floor hosts undergraduate clinical skill laboratories including simulated wards, a multidisciplinary health science laboratory and an anatomical dissection facility. The diagnostic imaging area contains a Networked Picture Archive and Communication System (PACS) that allows storage of, and access to, diagnostic images from all diagnostic and biological imaging modalities. It has been designed to be compatible with similar systems used in hospitals, and has clear advantages for the education of all healthcare professionals and has unlimited potential in research.
On the third floor, the School of Physiotherapy & Performance Science contains a number of specialised teaching and research areas including a clinical manipulation practical room, an electrotherapy area and a gymnasium. The adjoining multipurpose room and a motion analysis research laboratory provide state-of-the-art facilities. The third floor also contains additional simulated wards in the nursing and midwifery area, and a series of graduate and faculty research laboratories.
Throughout the building, the multidisciplinary approach to education and research is strengthened by the presence of future-proofed audiovisual and computing equipment and services. The simulated wards and clinical skills areas contain ceiling mounted digital video systems that allow either student or educator-led recording of patient interview, examination and investigation.
The jewel in the crown of the complex is the state-of-the-art Health Sciences Library, which like the rest of the building has full wireless network coverage. It provides for 244 study spaces, each with individual power/data and desk lighting as well as 11 small group project rooms.
The design of the building takes into account the environmental aims to reduce the requirements for mechanical ventilation, to maximise natural ventilation and day-lighting and to optimise the energy performance of the building for various times of the year. Design strategies and material selection were focused on user comfort levels.
Project Timeline Health Sciences I – Incorporates the School of Nursing & Midwifery, the School of Physiotherapy & Performance Science and part of the School of Medicine & Medical Sciences. Construction commenced in April 2003 with a phased occupation started in December 2004.
Health Sciences II – Incorporates the remainder of the School of Medicine and Medical Science, elements of the School of Biomolecular and Biomedical Science, and the Health Sciences Library. Construction commenced in November 2004 and it was occupied in December 2006.