The Wayfinding Centre aims to address the most pressing real-world challenges in the area of access to the streetscape and public transport that links an individual’s whole journey together. The concept of the “whole of journey” approach acknowledges that rarely a journey is completes via one mode of transport, but frequently requires connecting transits, eg walk – public transport – walk to reach the destination. As such, the whole community of landscape must be considered when analysing how to improve the accessibility of the streetscape and public realm.
The initial design start for The Wayfinding Centre was in 2019, taking the exploratory discussions and plans to sketch concepts and then creating a design that has not changed much during the construction. The build started in January 2022, which included sourcing the vehicles and organising all our approved contractors. At any time, we have had up to 60 people working on site, from project management, mechanical, electrical, civil, structural and architectural backgrounds.
Our day-to-day communications with Vision Ireland were excellent, and we always encouraged their input, as they are the experts in the daily challenges their service users face. Our challenge was creating a space and environment internally representative of real-life experiences. Vision Ireland has a specialist team will develop wayfinding journeys that will include barriers and dangers, such as bicycles and other obstacles throughout the facility and experience.When we assessed The Wayfinding Centre project, starting at the front door, we were aware that the building was a protected structure, so our initial plan was to construct a new modern glazed entrance at the side of the building as this would be the norm. We very quickly realised how Vision Ireland worked as they explained that people with a disability are always told to use alternative entrances. In this project, they will be using the main entrance. This created a financial challenge, but it was a valuable lesson for our team and helped us with many decisions going forward in the project. Everyone will use the front door no matter who you are or how you arrived on this earth!
Derelict environment: As with many old buildings, we had the challenge of asbestos and the hazardous difficulties it brings. We also had a more novel and just as dangerous challenge with avian contamination.The damage that bird fouling causes to older buildings can be extensive. Apart from the apparent unsightliness, the main problem is acids released from their excrement. This environment required specialist treatment and the highest attention to health and safety procedures.
There is also a garden park and area with different path surfaces. There are also several training and meeting rooms conveniently positioned on the same level as the wayfinding environment.
Distances for emergency escape from the building were complicated by having full-size vehicles in the building, which meant we needed to ensure the safe distance of each vehicle and adequate emergency exit pathways.
Air France provided the Airbus A 319 for The Wayfinding Centre, which flew the plane to Knock on its final flight. This was an iconic and sentimental moment as the pilots were the same ones who carried out the aircraft’s maiden voyage. After safely landing, our team stripped the plane, including the winds and back end, so we could transport it to Dublin and into the building.The plane has a functioning AV system, toilet and cockpit that the visitors can access. We also constructed a new row ten, which is an emergency exit so that visitors could sit in this area and experience what people who sit in this area are expected to do and know in the event of an emergency.
The plane is attached to an air bridge constructed to look, sound and feel like a real air bridge. Walking through the land bridge, the visitor will enter the plane via the main entrance to find their seat.We have an area housed with airport furniture that will provide an access area for all visitors to the airport zone. This includes ticket machines, a check-in desk, a luggage travelator, tensile barriers, a seating area at the departure gate, a boarding gate desk and real-time departure display panels. We also have an arrival area with tensile barriers, security and a luggage carousel.
Budget Restrictions: From the start of this journey, we knew that our client had spent much time and effort shaking charity baskets and negotiating financial assistance to undertake the project. We also understood that we faced severe budget restrictions. So, besides advising on cost-saving initiatives and keeping to the agreed budget, the Oak team assisted with the challenge of raising funds, including organising site tours for potential financial contributors. The DART train and LUAS have a combined platform with the Irish Rail specification platform on one side and the Luas specification platform on the other. The Luas carriage was purpose-built by the apprentices in Toulouse, France, which dramatically reduced the cost of the carriage.
The double-decker bus and coach are positioned on a streetscape with path curbs, lamp posts, bike lanes, pedestrian crossings, traffic lights, bus stops and shelters.Each vehicle has had its engines removed and has been ELV rewired to have an independent plug in functionality. All the lights on the vehicles have been replaced with LED lighting, replicating precisely what would be found on each vehicle. Each vehicle has been fitted with fire alarms and emergency lighting.
Each of the five zones has been rigged with sound-scaping equipment that will provide sound effects similar to what would be heard in each environment. The future plans will be to install a more advanced version of the sound-scaping system, including the sound of people, nature, vehicles and other background noise.The vehicle access doors are controlled by an app so that they can be accessed easily and safely.
The Wayfinding Centre creates the opportunity to co-design research with people who have a disability to support the production of accessible infrastructure, something that is going to impact all of our lives in the future.