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The Marine Institute Headquarters, Galway

  • Architect:
    Architectural Services, OPW
  • Award Type:
    Best Accessible Project 2007
  • Location: Connacht
The Marine Institute Headquarters, Galway


In an attempt to develop a design concept appropriate to the Marine Institute’s statutory role both nationally and regionally as well as to its special site at Rinville; and thirdly, to find an appropriate response to the functional and programmatic requirements of the brief; the Office of Public Works and Marine Institutes team researched and analysed a variety of issues such as:

  • How should the Marine Institute relate to Galway Bay, its site and its internal functions?
  • A sympathetic building / landscape relationship. * A unique identity for the Marine Institute.
  • Clarity of circulation.
  • Flexibility of use for laboratory and office space over time.
  • Energy conservation and sustainable design.
  • Life-cycle costs.
  • How to balance the needs of the Institute and the individual?
  • “Genus Loci” – a sense of place not just space.

The fruits of the extensive co-operation between the OPW, the Chief Executive of the Marine Institute Dr Peter Heffernan, his management team and staff, can be seen in the specially developed laboratory design which has enabled the building to meet International Laboratory Accreditation Standards and proposed EU directives, provide a safe and stimulating working environment, and also to allow for flexibility over time.

Client's Comments:

This project was a once in a lifetime opportunity to create a new reality: a modern world-class headquarters for Ireland’s Marine Institute. In an age of knowledge economies and global competition, including scientific discovery and application, it is vital that Ireland can project the image of ‘a happening place for research and innovation’. Increasingly, Ireland will have to achieve and strengthen this brand image – and this was one of the design concept challenges we faced when embarking with the OPW team on creating the new facility in Rinville, Oranmore, Co Galway. Another design challenge related to a core service we provide, i.e., integrated scientific advice to Government and society. Here the challenge was to foster the meeting of minds and the sharing of ideas by the multi-disciplinary folks who work in, and visit, the Marine Institute by virtue of the layout and resultant flow dynamics of the building. Feedback received to date from a wide spectrum of national and international visitors to the Institute and from staff, confirms we have been successful in achieving all our design concept goals thanks to the talents of the excellent OPW Architectural Services team.