Public Space

New public garden for Limerick city centre – 'Museum in a Garden' completed June 2021

Client: Hunt museum, Jill Cousins

Landscape design: Tierney Haines Architects, Nicola Haines

Contractor: ACS Construction, David O'Sullivan, and Castlegrey Landscapes, Conor Moore

Garden volunteers: Lucy O' Sullivan and Eamonn Rooney

With much help and support from Limerick City & County Council, the OPW, LIT-LSAD and Arup.

The Hunt museum is housed within the former Customs House, a Palladian Georgian building designed by the Italian architect Davis Ducart in 1765. The rear garden is approximately 3000m2 flanked by two rivers, the Shannon and the Abbey with views towards the 12th century St. Mary's Cathedral and the Potato Market. The museum ran an open landscape design competition in January 2020 with submissions appraised in two phases by a team of judges and engagement sought from the public over social media.

We were delighted to win the competition and design development started in May 2020.

The brief was partly to create exhibition space for supersize replica museum pieces to allow the museum to escape outdoors and blur the boundaries between internal and external display. A key aspect of the brief was that the garden reuse and recycle and use as much locally sourced material as possible. Above all else, the design had to create much needed community amenity space to entice everyone from local residents, office workers, and museum visitors to schools and charitable groups to use the garden.

The design for the garden draws on the maritime connections of the building and museum collection by creating 'tide lines' of grass and planting that ebb and flow around the garden, creating undulations and alcoves of shelter for exhibition space, seating and play. Semi – private places are created by sculpting the earth into berms that provide for a diverse selection of areas for visitors to meet, chat or sit quietly and enjoy the outdoors. Parts of the garden are 'discovered' in the same way the collection pieces are uncovered within the museum. Three main alcoves create exhibition spaces for replica museum objects and their shape offers people sitting within them some protection from the wind.

It is hoped the garden will become a place of learning and community togetherness which will be much needed in the wake of Covid, and will prove a great resource for all.