- 21 Nov 2016
(5 minute read)
Work has already begun on the transformation of one of our original campus buildings into a modern state-of-the-art facility which will provide a central point for all students’ needs. Robert O’Sullivan gives us a taste of what’s to come
Between “five to” and “five past” the hour, the walkway between The Quad and the Kane building on our university grounds would give any metropolitan thoroughfare a run for its money – such is the hustle and bustle of that inter-lecture dash made by students every day. This should not surprise anyone, as our university, the first in Ireland to get a five-star status, channels over 20,000 students through its campus grounds annually.
And as those students walk through the gates of UCC they are following in the footsteps of generations before them, going back to its foundation in 1845.
Students’ needs come first
"The Windle Building was famously once mentioned in James Joyce's classic first novel, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man"
However, the UCC campus is a far more complex place now than in the past two centuries, and thankfully there are a host of services, clubs and societies to cater for students’ needs. Unfortunately, those services are currently scattered around in different buildings, an issue that was first fully tackled almost a decade ago when the idea of a Student Hub to centralise everything was first mooted. In an October 2007 edition of the student paper, the Express, the then-Students’ Union president Kris McElhinney was quoted as saying the decision to move many student services under one roof was “a step in the right direction”.
That step is getting closer now, with plans in progress to have the Student Hub housed in The Windle Building, famously once mentioned in James Joyce’s classic first novel, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.
Some of those lining up for participation in the new campus Student Hub are Michael Hanrahan, UCC Clubs executive president; Eolann Sheehan, UCC Student Union president; Eoin McSweeney, editor-in-chief of Motley Magazine; Rob Burton-O’Sullivan, editor-in-chief of UCC Express and Pat McCarthy, UCC Societies executive president. Picture Clare Keogh.
The Windle Building
Originally built in 1850, following a donation from the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, Lord Clarendon, the Windle – then known as The Clarendon, or Medical, Building - was designed by the same architects behind the nearby Quad. Over the next 30 years three other buildings, with connecting hallways, were added on. However, after many of its educational services, mainly medical and anatomy-based, were moved to other sites as the campus modernised, the Windle fell into disrepair, with no public access to most of it in recent years.
Now The Windle is due to be given a whole new lease of life – as will our students, who will have one focal point to go to, for all their needs, instead of trying to navigate any number of services currently dispersed throughout the campus – a disorientating challenge for Freshers, in particular.
150-plus clubs and societies
Bear in mind, we have over 100 societies covering a broad range of pursuits and over 50 clubs for most sporting endeavours. The value of these services cannot be underestimated; they give an added richness to the students’ college experience. They also include support services like the Disability Support Service, Mature Student Office and student employment help, as well as creative services, like our media outlets - the UCC Express, Motley Magazine and UCC 98.3FM Campus Radio - and artistic studios and spaces.
So what is planned? A technology-rich building, designed by architects O’Donnell and Tuomey (who were also behind the award-winning Lewis Glucksman Gallery, on our campus), which will bring a state-of-the-art open and spacious modern interior, in stark contrast to the twisting labyrinths of back-offices of buildings past. Space is being set aside for a piece of contemporary art, which when combined with the architectural design should ensure that the building in itself is aesthetically pleasing.
Picture: Rowan Davenport and Chris Wright
What’s in store?
The Student Hub will include the Careers Office, the Student Union, the Disability Support Service and the Mature Student Office, in addition to 21 other student-led initiatives such as its print media outlets, the UCC 98.3FM Campus Radio, clubs and societies. These spaces will include open-plan offices for the clubs and societies, consultation rooms and offices for the Careers Office and Students’ Union, and teaching and learning rooms and offices for student publications.
The building is specifically being designed with students’ needs in mind. The rooms will flow naturally around a central reception area and there will be a co-op kitchen, based on the ground floor. The ground floor will also feature the Market Hall space, a large, multi-functional area that can house anything from pop-up exhibitions and Freshers orientation, to performances and concerts. This “common” space will have a double height ceiling with lots of natural light.
The upper floors will be filled with accessible offices for the various student services, consultation rooms and hot water points for students to make tea, coffee and get their caffeine fix! There will also be various viewpoints and mezzanines from where students can work, while taking in views of the surrounding campus and city. In addition to these spaces there are open learning and creative spaces on the upper floors, dubbed the Tower Floors.
The Student Hub project is expected to be completed in early 2018, with interior work on The Windle building and external work already having begun. Though Freshers of that year may take it for granted as part of our excellent campus, current students will be thrilled at this new stage of UCC’s continual adaption to their needs, over 170 years.
To keep up to date with all the latest developments visit: studenthub.ucc.ie