International Rugby Experience in Limerick has been voted Ireland’s favourite building in architecture awards announced on Thursday.
The project, designed by Niall McLaughlin Architects, was voted as winner of the Public Choice category at the RIAI Irish Architecture Awards 2023, coming out on top of a shortlist of 53 other projects.
International Rugby Experience is a new cultural institution and visitor experience to celebrate the game of rugby, and aims to complement the existing local arts and heritage attractions and forge links with Munster rugby.
The RIAI said the project has “a strong civic presence and a quality akin to a city hall, library or gallery. The façades are given a sculptural quality through the articulation of vertical brick piers and the façade bay proportions complement the Georgian streetscape. Its scale successfully addresses both the immediate, local context, while also announcing itself to the wider city”.
The building was also described as robust, yet extremely elegant and light.
Béal na Bláth by Cork County Council CPIU Architects with Scott Tallon Walker Architects and Prof Finola O’Kane, and Tropical Fruit Warehouse by Henry J Lyons on Dublin Quays were voted into second and third place, respectively.
The new Béal na Bláth memorial conserves the considerable authenticity of the general valley sections with its escarpments, bridges, great trees and sniper bóithríns, according to the RIAI, who called it “a public space that has utility and meaning in an important cultural landscape”.
Tropical Fruit Warehouse consists of a restored 1980s warehouse that is a protected structure, a lightweight overhead glass extension and a new seven-storey office building to the rear.
Remnants of the Hibernian Marine School, which was located immediately west of the warehouse, were discovered during opening-up works and have been captured as an element of the restoration.
“The shortlist for this year’s Public Choice Award has some incredible buildings that demonstrated the highest level of architecture,” Charlotte Sheridan, RIAI president, said.
“It is clear from the level of entries that Irish architects are amongst the best in the world, supporting not just design but Ireland’s economic, cultural and social structure,” she said.
Shortlisted entrants for the 2023 award included projects from Belfast, Carlow, Clare, Cork, Donegal, Down, Dublin, Kildare, Limerick, Louth, Mayo, Monaghan, Waterford and Wicklow, as well as international projects in London and Lesotho.
All of the projects on the shortlist were designed by Registered Architects based in Ireland and completed in 2022 and selected for the shortlist by the RIAI Awards jury, which visited the projects.
The RIAI Irish Architecture Awards celebrate the quality of current work by RIAI members at home and abroad and create awareness of the important role that architecture plays in delivering Ireland’s societal and economic infrastructure.