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Case Study Projects
17 of 38
1997 - 1999
St. James's Hospital, Dublin 8
Irish Blood Transfusion Board
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The National Blood Centre houses the headquarters, laboratories and production facilities of the Irish Blood Transfusion Service. The centre was one of a handful of buildings worldwide that pioneered the application of pharmaceutical industry standards – Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) and Good Laboratory Practice (GLP) – to the design of blood banks.
The form of the building evolved from the shape of the site, which is pinched at its southern end by the curved tracks of the Luas tram system. The main entrance and offices, grouped around a three-storey atrium, take up the arc of the quadrant, which ends in a sculptural wall symbolically pierced by a large viewing frame.
The principles of GMP – that the efficient flows of personnel, product and waste never cross – are simple, but they create an extremely complex design process. A core of changing rooms forms a clear barrier between the offices and both the GMP delivery, production, dispatch and storage areas at ground level, and the GLP testing laboratories overhead.
The clean rooms are fully glazed and surrounded by perimeter circulation, an innovation that allows staff and visitors to observe the activities without compromising the facility’s GMP status. The circulation buffer zone also reduces solar heat gains, while its transparency provides natural light and welcome external views from all spaces, despite the deep-plan design.
Another innovation is the enormous shaft that drops centrally from the rooftop plantroom to feed services outwards to the laboratories through sealed ceiling ducts. The walk-in shaft permits segregated access to dampers and controls, eliminating the traditional separate service floor. Other examples of clean design details include the laboratory benches, built off plinths onto which the floor surface is dressed, and the laboratory glazing system, which is an ‘inside-out’ brise-soleil: flush internally to eliminate dust collection and deeply inset externally to provide shade.