Initially developed in 1999, TU Dublin Blanchardstown is located on a 22.5-hectare campus within the IDA College Business and Technology Park on Blanchardstown Road North. The modern state of the art campus currently comprises of nine component buildings, with a total area of over 22,000 square metres. With capital cost exceeding over €50 million, the campus is fully equipped with state of the art computer and electronic labs, lecture theatres with the latest audio- visual equipment and learning aids, fully equipped workshops, library, restaurants, sports hall, fitness centre, students’ union area, automated banking facilities and parking for cars and bikes. Playing fields, which consist of a Gaelic and soccer pitch, are also located within the campus.
In its location and design, TU Dublin Blanchardstown offers a unique opportunity for a range of outdoor activities. The services of a Landscape Architect were engaged in 2017 to create “an activity-based landscape master plan”. The result is an interesting plan incorporating three main themes: fitness, sensory engagement and food production.
This activity-based landscape master plan is separate to but linked with the university’s buildings development plans. This plan has seen the development of a running path, which incorporates elements for ‘outdoor and risky play’, currently taught as part of the ECCE programme. This will include:
- Great Heights - Climbing, jumping, balancing, hanging. This is about having hills and valleys, trenches, mature trees, stumps and using the natural topography.
- High Speed - Swinging, sliding, running, bikes, skating.
- Dangerous Tools - Cutting, poking, whipping, sawing, lashing, tying
- Dangerous Elements - Elevation change, water, fire.
- Mock-Aggression - Wrestling, fencing, play fighting, rough and tumble play.
- Disappearing/Getting Lost – areas for children to be unsupervised, areas where children can be hidden.
Recent construction activities on the Blanchardstown campus have been completed with a particularly strong emphasis on sustainability and accessibility. For example, the newly developed “Connect” building co-locates academic management with student services and reflects the integration of services more directly into the student's learning experience. “Connect” incorporates elements of Universal Design with the assistance of The Centre for Excellence in Universal Design, which is part of the National Disability Authority. The SEAI's Excellence in Energy Efficiency Design (EXEED) programme has also been utilised on this project, which ensures a systematic approach to design, construction, and commissioning processes for new investments.
An announcement by Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris TD on 18 August 2020, has given the green light to a building programme, as part of the Government PPP programme, to deliver a teaching facility that will support future needs of learners, particularly in the west-Dublin region. With universal design at its heart, the 4,000 m2 building is planned to include predominantly open flexible spaces for active learning and will enable TU Dublin to meet needs for worker upskilling. Although planned for some time prior to the current COVID-19 pandemic, it also responds very effectively to the requirement for social distancing.