James Stephens Building is one of the historic structures belonging to the Griffith College campus in Dublin. It is a 19th century structure which was originally part of a prison complex and later military barracks. James Stephens Building currently houses training rooms and computer facilities.
The project brief was to transform the building into a restaurant and an apartment for the Student Body President. The main challenge of the brief was the successful combination of residential and commercial use in the building as well as the space planning-related issues resulting from the unusually long and narrow footprint of the structure.
Inspired by the building's proportions the concept for the new restaurant revolves around trains. The theme appears in all aspects of the project from architecture through to interiors, logo and graphic elements as well as the menu itself. The ‘traveling menu’ concept is based on the idea of location-themed regularly changed menu i.e one month the restaurant serves Greek cuisine, next month it's all about Argentinean dishes etc.
The building has gained a new main entrance located on the lawn across the road thus stressing the important relationship between the structure and college green. The new entrance connects with the restaurant via an underground tunnel which also serves a function of a bar and waiting area. Both existing staircases have been demolished and a new one has been housed in a glass extension to the front of the buiding. The new staircase serves both the restaurant and the Students‘ Body President’s apartment which takes up half of the top floor of the building. Large part of the courtyard has been transformed into landscaped garden, part of which became a private outdoor area belonging to the apartment. Part of the courtyard has been roofed to act as an extension of the tunnel.
The main dining area is reminiscent of a dining car with fixed booth seating and a long corridor running along the room. The secondary dining area doubles as a small function room and allows some flexibility of layout with a mixture of fixed and loose seating.