The HSE have commenced using Rialto Primary Care as a COVID-19 Triage Centre. Special thanks to Townlink, all their sub-contractors and the Design Team who have continued working on the building. We all received special dispensation from the HSE to get these Essential Works completed during lockdown.
Rialto Primary Care Centre will provide public healthcare to one of the most disadvantaged communities in Dublin. It sits between two Georgian era two storey terraces of redbrick houses. These terraces present stepped building lines to either side of the site. This step is reflected in plan with a granite portico resolving the break in the building line. An architectural language of brick and vertical proportioned windows is chosen in sympathy with building's context. Modern accents are contrasting brick and fenestration colours, resessed pointing, triple soldier courses and the civic presence of the granite portico.
At Rialto we were trying to insert a modern building into the historic fabric of the city. The site's immediate context has no modern buildings. Terraces of Georgian era two storey houses and their back gardens flank the eastern and western site boundaries. To fit the required programme we needed put a 3,384msq building on a 1,900msq site. It was necessary to set the building back 4.5m from the east and west boundaries and this reduced the possible building footprint to 1,350msq. On carving out the courtyard from the site to act as a lightwell the footprint was reduced to just over 1,000msq. A 3 storey building over the whole of the available footprint was chosen as the least intrusive intervention.
As part of the Department of Health's brief natural ventilation is encouraged as much as possible. However for safety reasons window openings accessible to children are restricted to 100mm openings. All healthcare buildings must also be thermally modelled. In our experience on previous primary care centres this lead us to choosing vertical proportion windows with the opening sections at high level. These opening sections, being out of the reach of children can open beyond 100mm. Thus requirements for mechanical ventilation are minimised. At Rialto this led to windows of proportion 1:2 with opening sections of proportion twice 1:√2. These proportions were also used to order the front elevation.
Rialto is the first building to which we have added a portico. As described above this helps deal with the stepped building line. It also gives civic presence in a part of the city sadly neglected over generations.