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The modular system and the acceptance of its principles by the building industry can help to bring harmony in to the present confusions. The danger is that the modular system while opening up endless opportunities in design could lead to standardisation of detail and a lazy death.(Scott, 1955, p. 63)
Busáras has been described as belonging "to the canon of the thirties" (Colquhoun, 1968, p. 106). The origins of the plan and modular system may be compared to other buildings of this period, notably the Maison Suisse (1930-31) and the Cité de Refuge (1929-33) in Paris by Le Corbusier (1887-1966). These influences on the design of Busáras can best be explained by the exposure of the design team to Le Corbusier's work while at University College Dublin. When major building work recommenced in Ireland after the Emergency, style was going to be heavily influenced by what was going on immediately preceding the war. So the vocabulary of modern architecture that the team used was derived from the architecture of the immediate pre-war period.
Wilfrid Cantwell worked on the treatment of the elevations of the building with a book of Le Corbusier's work beside him, constantly checking proportions and measurements with a set of dividers (Interview with Uinseann MacEoin, 1995). The building was built on a ten foot module that dictated both the internal arrangement of lights and services as well as the external elevations. Although it is possible that Robin Walker having worked for Le Corbusier brought back details of the Modulor theory from France to the practice where it was applied by Cantwell, it was the influence of Le Corbusier's earlier books such as Towards a New Architecture (1923) which was first published in English in 1927, and publication of his early work that influenced the building's appearance. Cantwell, Patrick Scott, Kevin Roche and Robin Walker were all studying in UCD during the same period. Patrick Scott recalls that during this time in UCD:
There were no books in the library, it was a very small department in those days, except for four books by Le Corbusier, so we were all mad fans of Le Corbusier. You can see this in the station - it is influenced by the Swiss Pavilion at the Cité Universitaire in Paris and the Salvation Army Hostel in Paris also by Le Corbusier. (Interview with Patrick Scott, 1995)
Wilfrid Cantwell is more definitive on the building's derivation:
I based the design of Busáras on the Maison Suisse in Paris by Le Corbusier. I still think it was the right decision. I have always thought that architects should take each job as they come, and assess the best approach. Although based on the Maison Suisse it is much better technically.
The only books on modern architecture available at college were a couple of books of Le Corbusier's work. We always thought they were marvellous, but when we [Cantwell, Kevin Fox, Fred Hilton, and Kevin Roche] saw the real buildings [in 1947] they really did look marvellous. We were disappointed that they were so poor technically. (Interview with Wilfrid Cantwell, 1996)
Patrick Scott also confirms that at the time of Wilfrid Cantwell and his own entry into Michael Scott's office, the building was a round two storey brick design by either Barry Quinlan or Colm McMahon. He stated: "We with our minds filled with Le Corbusier changed all that" (Interview with Patrick Scott, 1995).