Construction work for the Defence Forces will begin in James Stephen’s Barracks Kilkenny in early November 2019, with Sarsfield Barracks in Limerick following closely behind in early December 2019. Both facilities are expected to complete construction within a year. Conservation expertise shall be employed throughout the process, at survey, design and specification stage and in overseeing the works on site. The facilities will be used by the Defence Forces for a range of training and recreation purposes, with the very latest in state of the art equipment installed in both.
The two facilities are located within the curtilage of an historic barracks and both follow a contemporary design solution, fitting sensitively into the surroundings. Respecting the materials, colour, scale and quality of adjacent protected historic structures was top priority. A palette of colours has been chosen that reflects the existing “off white” and varying shades of “grey” Kilkenny limestone present in James Stephens Barracks where the Sports Hall has been broken into two distinct volumes with clerestory glazing at roof level to reduce scale, increase visual interest and to better pick up on the proportions evident throughout the Barracks.
Sustainability is a key element of the sports halls and both are full of light, being both naturally ventilated. The space left over between the new build and existing structures was used to create useable hard landscaped spaces which will foster a sense of wellbeing.
One of the key challenges in designing facilities of this type is providing a highly functional, hardwearing, cost effective facility that also delivers on architectural innovation and sustainability. The buildings are robust and low maintenance. The two projects threw up a lot of challenges, ensuring that the buildings responded sensitively to their setting and history.