The International Rugby Experience, 40 O’Connell St, Limerick, V94 WK20
190 reconstructed stone and brick-facing panels, constructed offsite and covering 1,849m2
Contractor: Flynn Construction
Architect: Niall McLaughlin Architects
The Finer Details:
The International Rugby Experience is a world-class interactive tourist centre situated in the heart of Limerick city at the corner junction of O’Connell Street and Cecil Street. This unique development, which is of huge significance for Limerick city, comprises a seven-storey building with a two-storey portico at the front entrance, a two-storey block to the rear and a three-storey block over an existing building. It is expected that the visitor centre will easily attract in excess of 100,000 visitors per year.
Techrete were engaged to design and manufacture 190 brick-facing reconstructed stone panels offsite, which cover 1,849 square meters of the project façade. We worked closely with Flynn Construction and Niall McLaughlin Architects from an early stage to ensure that the ambitious architectural plans could be realised. Techrete are proud to have been involved in the development of this world-class visitor centre
Victoria and Albert Museum, 1 Riverside Esplanade, Dundee DD1 4EZ
V&A Museum Headline Facts:
2,400 reconstructed stone panels, covering 8,787 square meters.
Contractor : BAM
Architect : Kengo Kuma & Associates
The Finer Details:
Situated on the
River Tay, the Victoria & Albert Museum of Design Dundee (V&A Dundee)
is the first V&A to be built outside London. The striking structure was designed by Kengo
Kuma with BAM as the main contractor. It
enjoys the enviable position as neighbour to the RSS Discovery which
transported Shackleton and Scott on the Discovery Expedition to the Antarctic
The design of
the façade drew inspiration from the Scottish cliffs and the silhouette of the
impressive façade imitates the shape of a ship at dock. Due to the complex geometric slopes and
curvatures, coupled with its exposure to the Scottish weather and its proximity
to the North Sea marine environment, architectural concrete was the favoured
material option for this project.
design work on the £5.6million package of precast planks, which underwrite the
design intent, in June 2015. BIM was
utilised during this stage for the planks but more interestingly and
innovatively it was used to accurately locate where the cast-in channels were
to be placed in the walls to facilitate the precast fixings. A GPS system of precise co-ordinates was
developed to ensure total accuracy of the interface between the cast-in
channels and fixings on the panels during the installation process. There were approximately 18,000 channels cast
in total. Pioneering bespoke fixings
were also engineered by Techrete which contributed to the overall speed of
installation. These fixings were
specially designed with marine grade materials to ensure there would be no corrosion
due to its maritime location.
Due to the
complexity of the curvature and complex geometric slopes of the façade
mentioned previously, the manufacture of the moulds, in itself, presented some
challenges. From a distance, the planks
look almost uniform, with a slightly non-linear appearance. However, whilst the
planks from the anterior aspect are a comparable size, the posterior of the
planks are differing sizes and orientations.
The traditional mould manufacture process to facilitate such diversity
in the planks, would have proved very costly with a lot of wastage so Techrete
experimented during the mock up phase and initially toyed with the idea of
devising a hydraulic driven adjustable mould.
This method was examined and it was deemed economically prohibitive. Through an advanced design process and
collaboration with a steel mould builder, a rotating steel mould was devised
that enabled the mould to rotate on large rollers and had the capability to
lock the form at given angles which were required for the diversity at the
posterior of the units. The fully
adjustable steel moulds facilitated quick and easy mould changes, were simple
to operate and adjust and eliminated the need for a high volume of moulds thus
reducing waste and improving quality.
consideration went into the choice of design mix. With such a detailed design brief for this
structure, Techrete worked very closely at design stage to agree a mix that
would encompass all the elements detailed.
The chosen mix was a C155 in an exposed finish. This mix encompasses all the design elements one would expect and draws
heavily on the design intent to reflect the Scottish cliffs. The mix consists of reconstituted granite
which drew direct inspiration from the rugged Scottish landscape and it was
further decided to enhance this mix by exposing the aggregates with the use of
a retarder during the production stage.
This was effect was further heightened with a light power washing to
further expose the aggregates. The
overall effect is a striking contemporary structure with all the ruggedness
traditionally associated with the highlands of Scotland.
The manufacturing period, which occupied approximately 15% of the production capacity, commenced in August 2016 and the duration was a year. Two months of preparatory site works were undertaken to ensure a seamless installation of the 8,787 linear meters of planks, ranging in weight from 0.9 tonnes up to 2.8 tonnes. The site works, and previously mentioned GPS system facilitated a high level of accuracy when installing the panels. The programme was initially designed to install all planks in a 36 week period but due to the innovative GPS system of placing fixings, coupled with the preparatory site works, and pioneering fixings, this was reduced to 28 weeks whilst on occasions installing up to 22 planks per day which in turn reduced the overall programme for the project. Higher level planks were installed using mobile cranes but those on the lower levels, due to their underslung nature, had to be installed with a specialist bespoke lifting equipment designed by Techrete and their specialist lifting equipment supplier. The onsite installation commenced in March 2017 and was complete by the end of October 2017.
innovation displayed during design, production and installation further
strengthens and displays the versatility of precast concrete in delivering on
design intent that otherwise may be unachievable with other materials and
traditional methods of construction.