Building design

In March 2004 the University of Limerick launched a two stage international design competition through the RIAI for the design of the Irish World of Performing Arts Village. In July 2004 DLB Cordier Architect’s submission was selected from 95 entries. The building which totals around 4,850m2 began on site on 3 may 2008 and was completed on 5 February 2010 and is to be Officially opened on 24 September 2010


The Competition brief makes repeated references to the river Shannon and its monastic past with learning associations to the current University culture. It calls specifically to -” provide an inspired space out of which an international community of musicians, dancers and scholars can find their own voice.” and for -” an Atrium / Entrance to duplicate as an exhibition and / or display space for art and also as a gathering point for people attending performances.” The IWAoMD brief called for two teaching theatres seating 80 and 240 respectively with Music and Dance Practice rooms and Studios, Academic and Administration Offices with supporting facilities including a Researchers Room and Cafeteria.


The inspirational South facing semi-rural site in Co. Clare- on the North bank of the river Shannon, fronts onto the arrival Piazza from the Living Bridge- a pedestrian link with the Limerick campus south of the river Shannon.

Urban and Building Design Concepts:

The Irish World Academy of Music and Dance Urban Concept (see diagram) mirrors the existing Foundation Building Foyer alignment with Plassey Mill Tower South of the Shannon. The Living Bridge ties both alignments together and completes this Urban Design triangle thus people share the same visual reference North and South of the Shannon to make-up for the visual separation caused by the mature landscape belt boarding the Shannon.

Building Concept:

The IWAoMD Building Concept (see diagram) is conceived as a visual termination to the Living Bridge crossing and forms a Street between itself and the adjoining existing Health Sciences Building. The raised superstructure of the 80 seats Drum theatre above all else creates the focal point when travelling North; by cladding it in copper shingles, it glows as it responds to the sunpath. The building shelters the arrival Piazza from the Northerly winds and, by glazing the South elevation at the point of entry, the multi storey Foyer and cafeteria spaces visually link the building, arrival Piazza and Living Bridge into sequence of inviting dedicated social spaces. The Foyer is conceived as a stage set, an internal street, a communal social meeting space linking both theatres access and each of the three floor levels while tying-in with the Cloister circulation which “wraps” the upper floors teaching accommodation around the Theatre spaces at the heart of a Céili of support teaching accommodation. The “Céili” layout symbolises the Creative Community of individuals and the village as in the title of the competition brief – The Irish Performing Arts Village”

Ground Floor:

The Ground Floor embraces the South aspect of the Foothold Piazza and Living bridge’s arrival. The Café Terrace overlooks the Piazza and the Special Area of Conservation (SAC) beyond. Key Public spaces include the Foyer, Theatres 1 and 2, Researcher’s room to reinforce the internal Street frontage. Administration and changing rooms enjoy quieter outlook to the West and North. Support ancillaries include plant room, storage, consumables and instruments deliveries, waste collection, cycle parking and a green outdoor arena to the West of the administration accommodation. The Zen Garden provides a spiritual outdoor resource space.

First Floor:

The First Floor is dedicated to teaching with the support of 14 Academics Offices, photocopy room, the Director’s office, Director’s secretary office and a common meeting room with Staff terrace.

  • 2 x 80m2 and 9 x 40m2 Practices room
  • 8 x Tutorial rooms
  • 1 x recording studio
  • 1 x Control Room for the 80 seats theatre
  • 1 x Instrument store
  • 1 x Performance space viewing gallery with fixed seating
  • 1 x mixed access South facing walled terrace
  • A mezzanine floor accommodates the main theatre control room

Second Floor:

10 Academic offices with Tutorial Room and support ancillaries including Outdoor terrace, storage and Practice Studios ranging from 40m2 to 200m2

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