Off the beaten track


With summer approaching, Sean Finnan looks at some of the more serene and beautiful spots on campus that one may come across on a sun-drenched stroll

Since the Belfield campus was officially opened in 1964, it has undergone a transformation, perhaps better termed a deterioration, far beyond the original architects’ desires. Concrete, unlike fine wine, does not age gracefully.

On campus this has lead to a somewhat post-apocalyptic concrete sprawl on the edges of Donnybrook. We have all read on numerous occasions, in this publication and others, of our campus being described as a concrete jungle. It is easy to see why; with each building bringing its own distinct off-colour grey to the campus skyline while underfoot, thick slabs of all shades of grey concrete dominate.

Despite this, with some searching, there are plenty of colourful areas that are waiting to be explored and perhaps fight against the popularised reputation outlined above. Reclusive students may know very well where to find the secret lakes, the Zen garden and the forest walks, but for the mass body of students these remain hidden. The University Observer went exploring and spoke to a number of students to find out what they think about the Belfield campus.

French and Philosophy student, Kate Smith, disagrees with the above assertion.

“I’m very fond of UCD and I don’t mind it so much and I do think there is a lot of diversity with the buildings. I mean, if you look at the Arts Block, it’s very old so obviously it’s going to have that type of architecture, but I think you’ve got the new Health Sciences Building, the Quinn Building and you can find the secret lake and the Zen garden. You have to look past the outside sometimes.”

On this reporter’s trip through campus, the above is certainly true with all the most interesting spots to be found away from the centre of Belfield. On a trip through the isolated colony of Richview, there is a grand piano hidden in the corner of the Memorial Hall ready to be played by all the wandering bohemians looking for a place to pass the lunch hour.

Also towards the Clonskeagh end of campus, there is the horticulture centre composed of greenhouses and rows of trees, although a word of warning, this does have restricted access. Not forgetting the secret lake and the many forest walks that are scattered on the outskirts of campus. One other spot highly recommended is the top floor of Arts in the School of Philosophy where one is treated to a wonderful view of the O’Reilly Hall all the way towards town and beyond to the sea.

Another area, unknown to many, is the classical museum located in the School of Classics in Arts. The museum, open to both students and the general public, houses a wide range of relics including Greek vases, Roman pottery, Egyptian antiquities and a marble sarcophagus.

When asked what were the preferred areas of students to hang out on campus, the students – many of whom had congregated at the lake owing to a rare sunny on campus – gave a variety of responses.

“I love out beside the lake especially when it’s warm, but where I really like is the decking area outside the Arts Block,” says Smith. “It’s all kind of wooden and got all the benches, so that’s nice, and if you really want to go for parkland, there’s all sorts of circuits that you can go to.”

Erasmus student, Marianna Minari, from Sardinia in Italy, says: “I like the Daedalus Building where there is the study area, because you can have small talk as well as it being quiet. I don’t need much silence, I just need to be interested in what I am doing, but also I really like the lake.” Meanwhile, Arts student Alastair Graham answers: “There are a few spots. The secret lake is a good quiet spot and also the spiral staircases in the Arts Block.”

It is clear that, with a bit of exploration and a keen eye, hidden niches can be revealed that can open up the campus grey into a more vibrant and student friendly world. With most of our time here spent in lectures or the library, take a moment or two to go beyond the lake and see what this campus has to offer. Who knows what you might find.