The setting out of the grid of Limerick’s Georgian Newtown Pery – south- west to northeast – established the orientation of our shortlisted competition proposal for a pavilion for Ted Russell Park in Limerick City. Its precise placement in Ted Russell Park is anchored in a clearing of one tree along a double row of mature trees on the original embankment prior to Fr. Condell Road being added in the 1980s. The location speaks of the passing of time, of the forces of man against nature, and of the power of the River Shannon.
The material we chose is Limerick Georgian Brick, which is finite. It will not be made again. Therefore we need to value it as a precious commodity. Ted Russell Park sits between Newtown Pery and the Brick Fields of Coonagh, one of the sources of brick for Georgian Limerick. This soft, subtle, multi-coloured brick is unfortunately readily available from the various construction sites in Limerick’s Georgian Core, notably Project Opera. Given its availability, we wished to mark this moment in Limerick’s history with a pavilion that speaks to a material history. The curving forms – sometimes made to be prow-like while at other times made to be accommodating for solitude or performance – acknowledge the great cellars and doorways of Limerick, and indeed Limerick’s greatest urban formation, The Crescent.
We proposed to make an eroded brick form that sits as an erratic on the old embankment the splits the park. It is eroded to allow for two curving brick benches – one that faces the southwest, the other northeast in order to maximise interaction with its curving form. Two vertical walls offer further opportunity to speak to our initial concerns – one wall that is given a rat trap bond to allow for plants and wildlife to grow, the other is given a recessed brick mark every 500mm to mark out the predicted rising sea levels over the coming 100 years. The form is then filled with alluvial soil from the riverbank and it is planted with reeds and river planting. It is also our intention to demonstrate that this proposal can be constructed to a zero-carbon footprint, given that all the raw materials are all to be salvaged and sourced locally.
This proposal attempted to speak to the vulnerability of our time, our city fabric, our river, and indeed our park benches and our material culture. We need to look after all of our concerns simultaneously. It was hoped that our pavilion would both shine a light on each concern and chart a more responsible way forward into the vulnerable future of the great city of Limerick.