Heyday’s 207 bed student accommodation at Carman’s Hall is a custom designed residence situated Dublin 8’s historical and creative hub; The Liberties. At C+W O’Brien Architects we were delighted to provide the fit-out for the ground floor, communal areas.

From the outset we were committed to providing the perfect balance of socialization, education and privacy – delivering optimum liveability by design. The communal areas are design to encourage students to work, live, learn and play. The facilities provided allow for students to use the latest technology to learn in whichever living space they require.

A key principle within the brief for this project was to develop a sustainable approach to the design. Our interior designer Jen McAuley took on the task and began research into sustainable products to increase the energy performance of the design.

The emphasis Heyday placed on sustainability led us to choose plywood as a key material in this project. On a limited environmental life cycle analysis (LCA) basis, wood has one of the lowest carbon footprints of any construction material, because it removes CO2 from the atmosphere and remains carbon negative even with the additional cost of transportation considered. Using wood sourced from sustainably managed plantations can therefore make a positive contribution to combating climate change.

Plywood, as an engineered wood had many other advantages. Plywood’s laminated nature ensured the distribution of load to be effective over a large area and reduced the tensile stress within the material. It is also a robust material, to withstand the wear and tear of student living. Finally, by using Plywood, a cost-effective material, it allowed flexibility within the scope of works and therefore, it granted us to design more bespoke pieces.

From the beginning, we were involved with the Graphic Designers to input on the client’s new branding. This allowed the branding and design influence one another and to create a strong and effective design that was one-of-a-kind.

A range of bespoke pieces were made, designed around the needs of students. These pieces include a booth seating unit and a shelving unit that also provides a library service. The bespoke features were inspired by the challenge of delivering multiple functions within a single form, that could be manufactured within a short timeframe. We explored the functionality and potential of each piece, that would offer the student the maximum amount of usability.

The booth seating was carefully designed to cater for private study sessions, private phone calls, offer library services and a place to eat. Each position of plywood incorporates a 2mm shadow gap to accentuate the joins between the two pieces of wood.

In the Seminar Room, tiered seating and a stool wall is provided to allow students to watch the latest TED Talk, or the latest Lecture that has been given by their university. Within the Study Room, a co-working space is provided to allow students to have a designated area that allows them study without distraction. This can also be tailored to suit study groups as required.

Our fitout of Carman’s Hall created social, communal and diverse learning and living spaces to allow students to decide where and how they learn – improving the overall student experience and breaking the tradition of students working in their room or university library.