Location: Limerick, Ireland.

Architect: Niall McLaughlin.

The International Rugby Experience is a new cultural institution and visitor experience located in Limerick, Ireland. The building is situated on the main shopping street in the city centre and seeks to reinvigorate the area while complementing existing local arts and heritage attractions. The design approach was to create a special civic building rather than a townhouse, referencing the scale of churches and civic halls. The 7-storey building provides state of the art, interactive visitor experience, ground floor retail area and first floor café adjacent to a double-height entrance hall, and flexible exhibition, education and event space in the basement. The building is crowned with a public hall at the top that offers panoramic views and acts as a beacon, visible from afar. The façades are given a sculptural quality through the articulation of deep vertical brick piers, with horizontal pre-cast concrete elements spanning between these, creating a series of recessed bays. The proportions of these bays complement the surrounding Georgian streetscape while the balance of openings and solid wall is arranged to suit the building’s interior functions. The building reflects some of the forces found in the game of rugby, with structural and brick expression providing a tangible link to the building’s function. Níall McLaughlin Architects worked closely with exhibition designer Event Communications to ensure a successful marriage between the architecture of the interiors, the fit-out and the interactive experience. A bespoke installation hanging above the main entrance was designed in collaboration with millimetre to provide visual interest on arrival and at the end of the visitor experience, and as a fitting tribute to the sport of rugby across the world.

Photo credit: Nick Kane.