Around the block: Austrian architects win competition to rejuvenate iconic flour mill

Seed vault plan for Rank’s silo as seen approaching Limerick city

Seed vault plan for Rank’s silo as seen approaching Limerick city


Two architects from Austria have won an ideas competition to bring new life to the huge former grain store at Limerick’s Ranks flour mill, which remained standing after an attempt to demolish it in August 1889.

The explosive went off but the monolith remained and now Docomomo Ireland, whose remit is to preserve modern buildings, has celebrated the “iconic” structure which closed in 1983.

Architectural competitions give young designers the chance of a break and once word went out about this one (organised by architect Peter Carroll and Emma Gilleece of Limerick Civic Trust) 131 registrations came in from as far afield as the US, Venezuala, Japan and Canada, and across Europe.

Fittingly, the winning project is a seed store – growing out of the building’s original use. Stephan Brugger and Eva Hierzer even have a garden in the scheme. There’s a glass lab at the top of the building – “presenting research as a beacon”.

The second prize, also chosen by the seven-strong jury that included Merritt Bucholz of UL School of Architecture (Saul); architect Siobhan Ni Eanaigh; Irenee Scalbert of Saul; and Carole Pollard, DoCoMoMo Ireland chair, went to Philippo Ginnasta and Gabriele Lupo of Switzerland who opted for turning the silo into a public venue for concerts and events. Third prize went to Dutch and Danish team of Laurence Lord and Jeffrey Bolhuis for a cultural centre.

But the ideas ranged wide, all the way from a swimming complex to a “drone delivery centre” of all things.