The project consisted of the demolition of the old Credit Union offices, an old converted two storey villa, and the construction of a new three storey office building. The office building provides 800m2 of commercial office space comprising an atrium, offices, banking facilities, meeting rooms, storage rooms, a conference room and staff facilities. At 10m high the atrium provides a large open banking hall for its members to conduct their daily business. Parking is provided for customers and staff across the rear of the site with access to the car park along the north side of the building.
The building is constructed of a structural steel frame with precast concrete hollowcore slabs topped with a concrete screed. A structural steel frame scheme was chosen as it allowed the main structural steel and precast elements to be manufactured off site and erected quickly onsite. This allowed for a short structural frame construction programme.
The steel frame is in-filled with concrete blockwork to the perimeter which helps provide the support structure for the various external cladding materials. The building is founded on pad and strip foundations on a rock outcrop with a ground floor bearing slab. Cantilevers are used throughout the building creatively to achieve the architectural design and give the appearance of minimal structure.
Stability for the building is provided for by a reinforced concrete lift core to the rear and a blockwork in-filled section of the steel frame creating a stair core to the front of the building. Diaphragm action of the precast concrete floor plates transfers the horizontal wind loads from the façades to the stair and lift cores. The walls of the stair and lift cores act as shear walls to resist the applied loading.
The long red brick unit to the rear of the site proved the most challenging element of the structure. The rectangular unit extends out 11m past the rear façade of the building at the first floor level with long slotted windows at various levels along its length. This architectural concept was achieved by providing two storey height Vierendeel trusses cantilevered out from the first floor level. The trusses were each pre-cambered to level off with the dead load of the structure. To prevent uplift, the columns at the rear of the trusses were anchored down into the bedrock with rock anchors. These anchors restrain the trusses from overturning thereby achieving the desired architectural concept.
From an architectural perspective this building demonstrates that a modern architectural concept can be conceived and developed on a small scale. From an engineering perspective this building demonstrates that an architectural concept can be followed through to its original concept by overcoming the engineering obstacles with creative and inventive solutions. This original and distinctive community building at the heart of the Swords Village centre was only possible through the close communication of the design team to design and deliver this landmark building.