The International Rugby Experience

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 & Albert Museum, East

V&A East, East Bank, Stratford Waterfront – Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

V&A East Headline Facts:

474 precast concrete panels, covering 5,878m2 of the facade.

Contractor: Mace Group / LLDC

Architect: O’Donnelly & Tuomey Architects

The Temple

Shree Swaminarayan Mandir Kingsbury, Shree Muktajeevan Swamibapa Complex, Kingsbury Road, NW9 8AQ

The Temple Headline Facts :

224 reconstructed stone panels, covering 2,760 square meters.

Contractor : FDL

Architect : LTS Architects

Theatre Royal

Theatre Royal, 282 Hope Street, Glasgow G2 3QA

Theatre Royal Headline Facts:

27 reconstructed stone panels, covering 340 square meters.

Contractor : Sandy Brown

Architect : Page / Park

Laidlaw Library

 Laidlaw Library, University of, Leeds LS2 9JT

Laidlaw Library Headline Facts:

Contractor : Shepherd

Architect : ADP Architects

Edinburgh Conference Centre

Edinburgh Conference Centre, The Exchange, 150 Morrison Street, Edinburgh EH3 8EE

Edinburgh Conference Centre Headline Facts:

Reconstructed stone panels

Contractor : Sir Robert McAlpine

Architect : Terry Farrell

Craigmillar Library

Craigmillar Library, 101 Niddrie Mains Road, Edinburgh EH16 4DS

Craigmillar Library Headline Facts:

300 reconstructed stone panels covering 2,600 square meters.

Contractor : Graham Construction

Architect : Keppie Architects

Imperial War Museum

Imperial War Museum, Lambeth Rd, London SE1 6HZ

Imperial War Museum Headline Facts:

280 GRC panels, covering 3,100 square meters.

Contractor : Lendlease

Architect : Foster & Partners

Victoria & Albert Museum

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 in 1901.

Video Credit : Blair Gibson

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.

Techrete started 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.

Careful 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.

The technical 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.