• Sunday , 15 December 2019

SAUL Intelligence Unit 2017_’City Riverway Engage’


Limerick City and County Council / School of Architecture at University of Limerick

SAUL Intelligence Unit Summer Research Project 2017

Merritt Bucholz Professor SAUL / Rosie Webb, Senior Architect Limerick City Council / Peter Carroll Senior Lecturer SAUL

SAUL IU Background:

SAUL’s research engine is the Intelligence Unit (IU).  The IU conducts research about the future of the city.  SAUL set up the IU in 2008 to work in partnership with Limerick City Council to provide knowledge and ideas to help underwrite the confidence required in developing the City.  We are supported by the Government Policy on Architecture and have as their partners the major civic bodies operating in Ireland including The Departments of Environment / Education / Tourism / Transportation / Waterways Ireland / Failte Ireland.  They are currently working with Limerick City County to develop a Digital Innovation District in the Georgian part of Limerick (Open Source Georgian, SAUL FabLab is a small example of this), we have developed new ideas for a giant public park using the Special Areas of Conservation within Limerick city, they have worked with Shannon Airport in envisioning their future, we have made a plan for all of the primary & secondary educational infrastructure for the Dept. of Education, and imagined the city as one place before the Limerick city and county boundary was dissolved.  They are the driver of Limerick Smarter Travel and established priority for the route that links the University and the City along the Shannon.

Project Structure:

The Shannon River connects the city to the past and the future, to UL and the Ocean, SNN and Foynes and the port, it is the emotional heart of the city, but because it is wide and fast moving it is physically ephemeral and challenging – and expensive – to manipulate. Compared with for example the Elbe, The Thames, The Seine, such a small city along such a large River, the small craft engagement that people have remains urbanistically illusive.

There is an opportunity through establishing a Civic Dialogue – a real, and broad public discourse, that helps to re-direct the debate on the future of the City – away from Limerick 2030 and its project-based mentality – to a new discussion about the future of the city situated within the region that leverages a much stronger and convicted University stake in that future, to an engaged citizenry who feel that the city is a place for them, a Georgian city of the future.

This specific enabling review needs to be played against the consequential aspects of actions such as climate change and sustainability, civic engagement in future planning, and the large opportunities brought by Ireland’s competitive position as the last English speaking country in Europe.  For example we need to consider local knowledge against global shifts in thinking and environment, and work to position the city not in relation to other Irish cities but in relation to its own uniqueness.


Aims and Objectives:

This Design Enabling Review process will to build on the work already carried out to open up navigation on and beside the Riverways in the City Centre including the weir and locks, the boardwalks and riverside pathways, the development of the Smarter Travel Link between the City and the University. It will now focus on bringing life to the River in terms of recreational activity, water based businesses, a possible new riverside residential community. It will re-examine the option for a long span bridge from Arthur’s Quay/ Sarsfield House to Merchant’s Quay due to its potential to have an adverse effect on the navigation of the River by boats. The Design Enabling Review will be carried out to examine options for the Riverway Project and to make recommendations for appropriate infrastructural provisions to capitalize on the potential of the River Shannon and to improve access and use of the River in the City and to address the following issues:

  •  Improved accessibility over the riverside route at Arthur’s Quay, Custom’s House, Potato Market and Merchants Quay and to the Sylvester O’Halloran Bridge;
  •  Opportunities to attract people to the area including sport and leisure activities, and measures required to increase boating activities and moorings for boats;
  •  The impacts of the recommendations of the CFRAM study for the area;
  •  The integration of art, maritime history and craftsmanship in the proposals; and
  •  The possibility of integrating community based, co-design methodologies.

The review process will include representation from The University of Limerick, Waterways Ireland, OPW, ESB, Fáilte Ireland, and other agencies as identified, and will include possible nominations from Limerick Council as well as engaging members of the public.



The timeframe will facilitate the following events:

  •  Enabling Review occurring during the week of June 27th & 28th
  •  Briefing Session preceding on June 13th & 14th
  •  Final report and recommendation would be ready for final week of July 2017

‘Guided Discovery’ Themes to be Developed and Explored

This guided discovery process will provide a generous interchange, it will draw on the power of Re-Imagining the Riverside – what are the possibilities in this place? The specific themes addressed will include:

City Health/ River Health – Health, wellness, usage of the river and the riverside

Riverside Nature/Ecology/Amenity – Nature, Ecology, Biodiversity, Smarter Travel/Looped walkways build on this. Flooding

Riverside City Living – the River as a spine to connect projects and activity and people – a Development Line, cultural enrichment, educational opportunities, daytime and nightime activity

The Working Riverside City – Citizen Open Innovation – Leveraging talent and Technology, citizen driven, user driven, Making in Limerick, riverside craftsmanship, boatbuilding, business development


This guided discovery process will lead to recommendations as to what specific riverside enabling infrastructure project proposals to develop in the City Centre.    It is the intention to use the work to confirm availability of funding/ explore new funding opportunities and to then progress proposals by way of an architectural design competition on foot of this process. The resulting report will clarify the brief for that process.



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