HKR secures planning for Dublin’s Gowan House PBSA

HKR Architects and Hollybrook Homes secure planning for Dublin's Gowan House purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA) development.

The Gowan House student accommodation development designed by HKR Architects for Hollybrook Homes | PBSA News
The Gowan House student accommodation development designed by HKR Architects for Hollybrook Homes.

An Bord Pleanála has granted planning for Gowan House, a major purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA) scheme within the City Edge Masterplan located on the Naas Road, Dublin 12. The development will bring much-needed student housing to the city.

An Bord Pleanála overturned a previous refusal by Dublin City Council at Gowan House. This was on the grounds that student residential was not an appropriate use of the site.

Designed by London based HKR Architects for Hollybrook Homes, the Gowan House PBSA development will provide 899 beds (including 44 accessible units and 24 studios) across buildings varying in height from thirteen storeys to ten storeys.

The Gowan House student accommodation development | PBSA News
The Gowan House student accommodation development. Image created by 3D Design Bureau Ltd.

The standard rooms at Gowan House are arranged in clusters, featuring three to eight bed spaces with shared living, kitchen and dining areas. HKR have maximised the number of dual aspect clusters, creating 67% dual aspect sitewide avoiding single aspect north-facing clusters.

5% of the rooms are accessible and located near circulation cores for ease of access. Excellent provision is made for disabled users in all circulation spaces and communal areas. All landscaping, public and private has been designed to be fully accessible and inclusive.

The masterplan includes shared community and cultural space, retail space and an attractive public realm positioned on the River Camac. The development is accessed via a public south-facing plaza, leading to the central landscape.

The retail, cultural and community spaces, located on the western side of the site off Naas Road directly overlook the new square. These public realm changes will activate and enhance these spaces while providing new facilities for the neighbourhood.

Outdoor area at the Gowan House PBSA scheme | PBSA News
Outdoor area at the Gowan House PBSA scheme.

Prioritising sustainable transportation, car parking provision is at an absolute minimum of nine spaces, including accessible parking. The Gowan House development will improve the cycle network and offer extensive bicycle storage including cargo/adapted bike spaces and electric bike charging.

“We welcome An Bord Pleanála’s decision to overturn a previous ruling by the Dublin City Council for this development, which brings 900 student beds to the city. The decision addresses the considerable pressure to supply student housing and creates a great opportunity for future regeneration within the City Edge masterplan.

“Our extensive PSBA experience together with our client’s long knowledge of the student sector has empowered the team to create a very viable and efficient scheme, achieving optimum site value in line with HKR’s well established ‘Value by Design’ ethos. This is something we pride ourselves on and bring to all our projects.

“This development is unique as it is one of the first to address the daylighting a culverted River in this case the Camac within the City Edge Strategic Framework. Opening a river running nine metres below ground level is challenging but will bring several benefits to the site and ultimately add value.

“This is a complex initiative required expert input from the dedicated specialist team. The creation of a low intervention Riparian Zone will encourage biodiversity, increasing plant diversity, food resources and higher quality shelter to the benefit of wildlife inhabiting and commuting through the area. It also proves the overall flood resilience along the River Camac.”

Joao Ornelas, Associate Director, HKR Architects
External space at the Gowan House scheme | PBSA News
External space at the Gowan House scheme. Image created by 3D Design Bureau Ltd.

HKR adopted several innovative design measures to meet the Gowan House project brief – as well as address Dublin City Council’s policy aspirations. River daylighting was maximised, which in turn optimises the ecological benefit.

The scheme includes extensive roof gardens as external amenities. This move in the landscape strategy allows the quantum of public realm to be increased. This offers an interesting experience for the public with a treetop walk ‘floating’ over the river, providing an attractive visual feature.

A pedestrian bridge connects the residential blocks, enabling the communal amenities to be shared between all blocks. This design has the operational benefit of a single entrance point from which residents are distributed across the dissected site.

Treetop walk ‘floating’ over the river | PBSA News
Treetop walk ‘floating’ over the river. Image created by 3D Design Bureau Ltd.

The façade composition utilises complementary and contrasting colours to modulate the general mass of the scheme, adding variety and interest to the overall composition.

Pre-cast concrete components are proposed in the façade design, providing a high-quality finish with a considered of colour textures and patterns. This robust low maintenance material ensures the continued appearance of the façade through a full life cycle. The use of prefabricated elements brings all the benefits of offsite construction to the project.

“HKR Architects have a long tradition of challenging consensus and optimising mixed use urban regeneration. Smithfield Square constructed in 2003 represented a step change in the density of urban redevelopment in Dublin with a plot ratio of 5.5. Recently it was voted the second ‘coolest neighbourhood’ in the world by TimeOut, second only to Medellin in Columbia.

“Later HKR achieved a grant of permission at Ballsbridge One with a plot ratio of 4.6 which kickstarted the regeneration of Ballsbridge Central. This grant of permission on the Naas Road represents a landmark decision in the city’s ongoing redevelopment. It addresses a very real housing need. Dublin’s housing shortfall should be addressed via multiple residential typologies including student accommodation and co-living as is demonstrably the case in all European cities. The idea of one size fits all does not address the reality of the diverse demography that is a city.”

Jerry Ryan, Executive Chairman, HKR


The Gowan House project team also includes Barrett Mahony Engineers, Stephen Diamond Landscape Architects, Enviroguide, Thornton O’Connor Town Planning, AWN, Delap & Waller, Model works and 3D Design Bureau.