Irish Aerial Creation Centre

The centre is proposed to establish a home for the Irish Aerial Creation Centre at the high profile Franciscan Church, in the heart of Limerick city. Using the existing church volume, the intention is to provide rehearsal space for the making of new work, and for the training of new generations of aerial dancers. The new centre will provide two separate studios as well as dedicated spaces for specific performance elements, full shower and changing facilities, and dedicated learning and office spaces. Studio one will be a full time professional creation studio, while studio two will be a teaching studio.

The proposal is designed is to maximise the experience of the height present in the church. It reorientates the space away from the direction of the altar and redirects upwards into the space above reflecting the gravity defiance of the performances. The inserted running tower achieves this with its placement in the centre of the nave, it catches your eye and draws it upwards to the wealth of space above.

When dealing with a structure of such heritage value it is our intention to minimise the amount we must intervene with the existing material. As such the proposal takes our support spaces and rather than have them scattered across the church floor, we have them combined into a single element, the running tower, which reduces their impact on the existing while simultaneously providing the vertical running space required by the performance and freeing up much of the floor area for performance.

There are three primary moves being made in this proposal. The most significant one is the afore mentioned running tower. This is a free standing, timber element over 4 floors. It’s two long elevations facing the nave are plywood surfaces to facilitate wall running and these are supported and separated by an exposed timber lattice which is open facing the aisles and clerestory windows. Within this lattice are the support rooms of storage, changing rooms, offices, teaching space and finally a break area, which sits open topped, overlooking the two main studios and framing views out of the clerestory windows. The second element to be installed is the truss to cater for the aerial rigging. It is to be discretely placed above the clerestory level at intervals to match the 5.3m structural grid which the existing columns sit on and in such a way to avoid damage to any of the decorative elements in the area. The third element is the raised sprung floor which runs through the nave. This element is to be laid floating over the existing tiled floor, again minimising the impact, providing a comfortable support to the dancers performances. As well as the sprung floor insertion, in order to provide comfort to the dancers in a space which currently can get quite cold, there is to be a new heating system installed which will replace the orignal system which was removed during works to the Friary.

Limerick City