The construction of Ranks Silo No.2 is almost complete, 5 December 1937. Photo: Franz S. Haselbeck, taken from Franz S. Haselbeck’s Ireland – Selected Photographs compiled by Patricia Haselbeck Flynn and published by The Collins Press.Permission for use by Patricia Haselbeck Flynn. Copyright The Haselbeck Collection
DoCoMoMo Ireland presents ‘Rank’s Silo in the 21st Century’ an open design competition to develop ideas for what this building might become. The architectural ideas competition seeks to generate discussion among designers and decision-makers about the future of the Rank’s Silo Building. The competition is open to all and offers a prize fund of €6,000. The competition will be launched in February 2014 . The closing date for the submission of entries will be 25th April 2014. The assessors will be drawn from strategic planning, architecture, culture, architectural history and current affairs backgrounds.
What will become of Rank’s Silo, one of Limerick’s most iconic modern buildings?
In recent years, Rank’s Silo has become emblematic of a certain redundancy, being a part survivor of a much larger complex of industrial buildings that stretched either side of Limerick’s Dock Road. From its acquisition in 1930 to its eventual closure in 1983 it employed thousands in Limerick and touched the lives of many thousands in the surrounding countryside. During its 53-year history it has evoked many passions – ranging from revulsion to admiration – but it is ultimately a symbol of modern Ireland, constructed with an air of defiance. As a valuable architectural contribution to Limerick City of Culture this competition seeks to encourage once more a certain disregard for convention, a quest for adventure and an exploration of possibilities.
Why have an ideas competition?
The purpose of the competition is to create a body of ideas about how the Ranks Silo might approach its next phase of life. Proposals may include, inter alia, architectural intervention(s), versions of preservation/ conservation, visualisations, functional proposals, urban proposals, and contextual imaginings. The principal aim is to re-imagine the building and its immediate surrounding environment in an innovative and exciting way. Ideas on the future use of the Silo must take cognisance of the fact that the port is to remain a working port and any potential future use of the Silo must take this fact into consideration.
What is the competition brief?
DoCoMoMo offers an open brief to competitors to envisage The Rank’s Silo as a hub in the context of its potential importance to Limerick City. In many ways, the Silo implies certain use but that use may not be the primary aspect of its preservation – there are other issues to be considered such as environmental, social and economic. Does the preservation of a building depend on an architectural proposal alone, or can the response be structured so as to bring the project closer to use in perpetuity?
The emphasis of the competition will therefore be on reflecting the rhythms and the life cycles of The Rank’s Silo in Limerick so that it can adapt to change without losing its identity, can slow down and speed up, and can adjust to cycles and transformations in the context of an uncertain future. It is therefore about anticipating the inevitable impact of change, allowing a plurality of uses, but also making creative use of what already exists.
The competition responses should articulate site characteristics with an analytical framework in which an urban and architectural project is conceived around lines of force that can incorporate the notion of time and evolution:
so that the space adapts to changes of use, to move towards a greater urbanity
so that the space can accommodate several successive uses, to move towards greater intensity and more social use of the existing built heritage
so that the site can evolve over time with a sustainable strategy, but with the capacity to adjust to programmatic unpredictability
Of particular interest to this competition are the two Franz Haselbeck photographs illustrated at the beginning and at the end of this document. They are very interesting historical artefacts in themselves, the last one being particularly ambiguous, suggesting construction/assembly, but also de-construction/dis-assembly. One might ask are the people in the image anticipating the finished building or participating in its construction? The photographs show a construction technology highly developed for its day, and a structure whose height was without parallel in the city at that time.
The second photograph is particularly interesting in its ambiguity: it looks like a structural frame (of steel and wood) but may actually be scaffolding, or it may be a combination of both. It already assumes the height of the building but in a very diaphanous manner – its elements appear too thin to be structural and seem quite temporary, but yet compose a volume or mass that is very large compared with the people underneath (you can just make out a large number of people at the 2nd floor lift and they become part of the structure). The flatness of the site and the large groundworks in the foreground give the impression that there is something underground (perhaps water?) that must be brought under control.
Objectives: Between Legacy, Invention and Reversibility
In terms of a chosen brief and scale of idea, we want this to be less a question of flexibility or functionality than of scenarios for appropriate transformations between legacy (the history of places), invention (innovation in spatial arrangements that accommodate a plurality of uses) and reversibility (temporary developments). It is less about technology than a method of establishing links between natural and cultural environments and finding compensations and connections. This means, for example, that plans for new buildings need to include measures for nature and landscape and new projects need to be capable of harmonising with a system by adding meaning and purpose (re-connection).
To achieve these objectives, time and the effects of time need to be considered and incorporated into a responsible and inventive analysis of urban rhythms. For this, one needs to evaluate/assess what is already there, and think about the future within an open programme that incorporates different timescales: for example, different rhythms of life, of day and night, of the seasons and of successive generations.
Who can enter?
The competition is open to all individuals and groups with an interest in presenting creative ideas for the future use of this landmark building. This is a conceptual architectural competition. First prize in the general category will be awarded €3,000. Second Prize will be €1,500 and third prize will be €500. First prize in the student category will be awarded €1,000. Commendations will be at the discretion of the assessors.
Competition entry form ( to be included in you entry)
A. Drawings of Site & Silo:
City Context Plan
Site Context Plan
Plan, Section and Elevations of Rank’s Silo
B. Franz Haselbeck Photographs and Other Assorted Site Photos
C. Current Site Photography
How Can One Enter?
The competition regulations and information packs will be available at www.docomomo.ie. Registration fee per entry €20 (€10 for students), not per participant (i.e. Group entries are the same as individual entries). Each submission will be presented on 1 x A1 mounted board (landscape format) and in soft copy. The presentation made will need to adequately explain the proposal in scaled drawings, images and text. No 3D elements can be accepted (models, applied elements to boards, etc.) A reference code will be issued to competitors on registration via email.
Address for Registration:
By Paypal on Docomomo Website www.docomomo.ie
All entries to be submitted to:
DoCoMoMo Competition Co-ordinator,
51A O’Connell Street,
Deadline for deliveries is 12.00 noon on Friday 25th April.
For postal/courier delivery we accept postal date of 25th April but evidence must be provided , we allow up to one week after postal date for receipt of postal entries.
Late entries will not be considered.
Entries which do not have their Competition Registration No. attached to the rear of the A1 board will be disqualified.
Registration Date: To Open Friday 28th February 2014
Deadline Date for Questions: Friday 28th March 2014
Answers to Questions Issued Date: Friday 4th April 2014
Registration Closing Date: Friday 4th April 2014
Submission Date: Friday 25th April 2014
Competition Judging: May 2014
Exhibition of Competition Entries: June 2014
Merritt Bucholz, Professor, SAUL
Siobhan Ni Eanaigh, McGarry Ni Eanaigh Architects
Irenee Scalbert, AA London & SAUL
Dr. John Logan, Historian
Carole Pollard, Chair DoCoMoMo Ireland
Kazys Varnelis, Columbia University NY
Kieran Lehane, Limerick City Council
DoCoMoMo Ireland & Limerick City of Culture 2014
Peter Carroll: Event Co-Ordinator
Emma Gilleece: Event Co-Ordinator
Carole Pollard: Chair/Event Administration
Paul Tierney: Secretary/Event Publicity
Shane O’Toole: Event Internationalisation
Dr. Ursula O’Callaghan: Event Collaborator