RAISING THE BAR
Built by Sisk, The Residence, Coopers Cross in Dublin’s North Docks is an exemplar in sustainable, flexible design
Described as a project that raises the bar for resident, tenant and community experiences, work on The Residence, Coopers Cross in Dublin’s North Docks was complete this year. The six-acre campus, featuring a mix of multifamily and commercial space, was built by Sisk and designed by O’Mahony Pike Architects. Once the final element of the project completes – office building 2 – the project will provide over 93,000 sq m of mixed-use space including 471 apartments, 381,000 sq m of Grade-A office space, retail and cultural space, all anchored by one acre of public realm.
It’s an apartment complex that sets a new standard for sustainable, flexible, multi-use projects, says Sisk’s Maurice Flynn who acted as Contracts Manager on the development. “This is a project that’s taught us a lot of lessons. If you were to just take what has been achieved around sustainability and offsite construction, we have learned so much and will be applying those learnings to future projects. It’s a project we’re all very proud of,” says Maurice. Sustainability was factored into The Residence, Coopers Cross at the pre-construction stage and is one of its standout features. The overall project is underpinned by world leading sustainability credentials such as targeted LEED and WELL Platinum, BREEAM Outstanding. It’s also driven by powerful data driven intelligence that seamlessly connects with both the building’s systems and the people occupying them. A smart building, all energy output is monitored in order to improve energy efficiency. Rainwater harvesting systems manage waste water and rainwater collection on the campus. During construction, further efforts were made to reduce energy consumption. “Smaller items of plant and equipment were battery operated. Larger components such as tower cranes were powered directly off the main electricity supply and not through generators. Every element of the build was continuously monitored to reduce energy usage.”
More unusual sustainable elements were also employed at The Residence, Coopers Cross. “Battery operated forklifts, which are a fairly new innovation within the industry, were used on the project. The use of smart meters was also extensive. The design of the project factored in waste minimisation, as did the prefabrication methods used. Sisk is very much a company that’s focused on being as sustainable as possible; in 2022, the company planted over 400,000 trees and is heavily involved in peat bog restoration to meet our sustainability targets. We take a sustainability-led approach on all projects and that was very much the case on The Residence, Coopers Cross.”
Community engagement was a priority for the Sisk team from the outset. A proportion of jobs went to locals while activities and events were held over the duration of the build in an effort to foster a positive relationship with the community. “We believe we’ve made a positive difference in the surrounding area and helped create a vibrant and sustainable place for the community for future generations. We organised fun days, Santa visits and handmade toys were presented to local schools. Our involvement with the Considerate Constructors Scheme has also helped us build trust with the public.”
The project wasn’t without its challenges. Covid impacted the build as did materials shortages and inflation. A lack of accommodation for workers was also an issue for site staff throughout the project. Surprisingly, staff retention wasn’t a problem.
“Over the two and a half years of the project, we had a 100% retention rate. I think we were grateful in that our staff had the right skills set and were happy to work on such a prestigious project. An excellent working relationship with the client, Kennedy Wilson, also helped us get over the line. I also worked with the company on the Capital Dock development, so there’s a really good collaborative relationship there.”
BIM was employed on the project, primarily for the coordination of services in the early stages. 4D modelling was also used for logistics and virtual planning. “The utilisation of BIM is part of Sisk’s digital transformation and it’s embedded into our standard delivery process. With building components becoming more prefabricated, BIM is especially useful. In our opinion, it’s the future of construction.”
For the Sisk team, there were quite a few firsts on the development’s residential side. At pre-construction stage, a decision was taken to go with a precast modular build, known as a closed cell precast framing system, manufactured by Keegan Precast. This is the first time this system was used in Ireland, where all verticals including external walls were precast. “All apartments were formed on the floor plate before going to the next level. That process minimised the amount of soft installations required. Various apartment buildings would have a number of precast rising elements but at The Residence, Coopers Cross, we had precast corridors, external walls, dividing walls between apartments and riser walls. In twinwall that’s quite unusual and we were delighted with the outcome. Primarily, the reason we adopted precast was to lessen the impact of the construction phase on the community. As we weren’t fabricating on site, we were creating less noise and vehicle movement which of course was a major benefit to the community.”
Sisk also installed the first fully prefabricated aluminium balconies in Ireland on The Residence, Coopers Cross, partnering with a UK supplier called Sapphire Balconies. “They have been an outstanding success and are now becoming the industry norm, particularly on larger apartment developments.”
Michael McDonnell Managing Editor of Irish Construction Industry Magazine & Plan Magazine