Excellence in concrete design and construction was celebrated at the Irish Concrete Society’s Awards Evening, which took place on the 25th of March in the Clayton Hotel, Burlington Road, Dublin. 

This was the 40th Annual Awards Evening which took place in the 50th Anniversary year of the Society. Adjudicated by a distinguished, independent jury of industry professionals, the Awards recognise excellence in both design and construction in concrete. The event is always one of the highlights of the construction industry’s calendar and was attended by 240 on the night. 

The Main Awards Jury reviewed a total of 30 projects nominated in three categories of Infrastructure, Element, and Building. There were also seven projects nominated for the 10th International Award, which is sponsored by Enterprise Ireland. In addition, the winner of the biennial Sculpture Award and recipient of the annual Sean de Courcy Student Award were announced. 

Speaking at the awards evening, Chair Prof Roger West stated: 

‘Tonight is our opportunity to celebrate the “promotion of excellence in the use of concrete” in all its forms, recognised in our Student, Sculpture, International, Infrastructure, Element, and Building awards. 

The skill, talent and dedication of our predecessors in achieving excellence in concrete is exemplified in past winners of the awards. On this the occasion of the Society’s 40th Annual Awards evening, we observe the continuing exceptionally high standard of concrete design and construction in Ireland, as mirrored in tonight’s award winners’. 

The Main Awards 

The main awards jury consisted of Valerie Mulvin (McCullough Mulvin Architects), Tim Murnane (Punch Consulting Engineers), and Ger Ronayne (JJ Rhatigan). 

Building Category and Overall Winner: Project Fitzwilliam, Dublin 

Chosen from a total of 11 Building Category entries and 30 entries for the Overall Award. 

Jury Quote: 

‘More a city block than a project, a terrific addition to James Street East and a nod to the random familiarity of a Georgian street, behind the loadbearing brick of the third ESB building on this site, this project reveals high drama concrete slipform construction, structural gymnastics in hanging staircases and concrete Vierendeel trusses, and finesse in the design and location of strategic precast concrete façade elements. 

The design team, contractors and subcontractors have beautifully crafted the materials and spaces to make a great environment for people to work in. Detailing is crisp, tightly controlled and well executed, exploiting the contrast between fine precast and rougher in-situ concrete. 2 

Geometric precision of details like the use of longer precast fins on the south courtyard facades brings complexity and interest to simple classic elements.’ 

Project Client: ESB 

Project Architects: Grafton Architects / O’Mahony Pike Architects 

Project Engineer: O’Connor Sutton Cronin 

Project Contractor: Admore Structures / P.J. Hegarty & Sons 

Major Suppliers: Roadstone / Techrete 

Infrastructure Category Winner: N22 Sullane and Laney River Bridges 

Chosen from a total of 9 projects entered. 

Jury Quote: 

‘The two river bridges of Laney and Sullane are impressive examples of the use of both in-situ and precast concrete. The W19 beams of the Laney and Sullane River Bridges are the longest in Ireland and the UK for both single and two span prestressed bridge beam structures at 50m and 98m respectively – both achievements are fine feats of Engineering design and construction, while pushing the boundaries in the use of prestress concrete. 

This was achieved in an innovative manner by utilising the opportunities provided in the design code EC2 to maximise prestress concrete design efficiencies. Not only did this approach allow for longer span beams, it also allowed for significant savings in quantities of both concrete and steel. This is an excellent example of how investment in concrete design excellence results in material savings, which not only benefits the project budget, but also the environment.’ 

Project Client: Transport Infrastructure Ireland 

Project Designer: Barry Transportation 

Project Engineers: Barry Transportation / Martin Heffernan Consulting / Mott McDonald 

Project Contractor: Jons Civil Engineering – John Cradock JV 

Major Suppliers: Banagher Precast Concrete / Roadstone 

Infrastructure Category Highly Commended for Sustainability: Blanchardstown Main Drainage 

Jury Quote: 

The Blanchardstown project’s design and execution is about understanding the stresses and strains we are imposing on the planet with increasing urbanisation and population growth and makes an elegant solution which sustains us for the future. 

Flooding and saturation after intense rain have been problematic in this part of Dublin for many years. This economic and ingenious linked structure – three huge circular concrete tanks and kilometres of tunnelling to connect to existing infrastructure – attenuates storm water and manages the risk of untreated wastewater overflow into the river Tolka. This singular piece of infrastructure therefore protects vital habitats and ecosystems along the Tolka Valley and into Dublin Bay itself, giving us cleaner beaches and healthier seas.’ 

Project Client: Irish Water 

Project Designer / Engineer: ByrneLooby, An Ayesa Company 

Project Contractor: Ward & Burke 

Major Suppliers: Kilsaran / Tracey Concrete 3 

Element Category Winner: National Surf Centre, Strandhill, Co. Sligo 

Chosen from a total of 10 entries. 

Jury Quote: 

‘Proudly positioned adjacent to the crashing waves of the Atlantic, the striking building envelope includes perimeter walls of concrete panels. Critically these precast panels are designed and manufactured to be durable against exposure to the sea. 

Their clear and flawless finish allow for the etchings to be enjoyed in great detail. Locally sourced aggregate along with reused and recycled material ensures the reduced carbon footprint of the concrete. 

The jury was particularly impressed by the quality, attention to detail and consistency of finish across all of the concrete elements of this project. The exceptional execution of the exposed aggregate finish in the public plaza, the perfectly fitted and finished eco drains and footpaths and the contrast of the smooth and textured concrete finishes is very cohesive. 

This is a flagship example of the use of precast concrete demonstrating the balance of beauty, strength, durability and sustainability.’ 

Project Client: Sligo County Council 

Project Architect: Keys and Monaghan Architects 

Project Engineer: Taylor & Boyd 

Project Contractor: Arken Construction 

Major Suppliers: Flood Precast 

Winner of the 10th International Award: Techrete for Osiers Road, London, UK 

This award, sponsored by Enterprise Ireland, recognises Irish companies who export product or service off the island of Ireland. The Award reflects the continued emphasis on export for Irish construction. The Jury included Chair Ed Hanlon (Engineer), Bryan O’Rourke (Architect), and David O’Mahony (Mola Architects). 

Chosen from a total of 7 entries. 

Jury Quote: 

‘There were a few projects which scored very highly, and this presented the Judges with a challenging decision. However, after careful consideration they were unanimous in their final choice. 

For overall excellence in design incorporating variety, complexity and attention to detail to create a high-quality aesthetic façade the Jury chose to award the 10th Irish Concrete Society International Award to Techrete for their project at Osiers Road, Wandsworth, London. The innovative solutions in blending different materials and textures in carefully designed panels to create a rich sharp and intricate façade impressed the judges.’ 

Project Client: Osiers Road, Wandsworth, London, UK 

Irish Export Companies: Techrete 

Winner of the Sculpture Award: ‘Bile Buadha’ by Niamh McCann 

This biennial Award Scheme enables the Society to acknowledge the work of sculptors who use concrete as a medium of expression. 

The Jury consisted of Mel French (Artist) and Douglas Carson (Architect). 

Chosen from a total of 11 entries. 

Jury Quote: 4 

‘The selected work for the Irish Concrete Sculpture Award work is ambitious in its use of methodologies within concrete processes. This combined ambition with the conceptual integrity, creative artistic investment of process and thinking makes this Sculpture an excellent example of the diversity and value of the use of concrete within the field of Contemporary Sculpture. 

The submission valued the practical concerns of materiality and conceptual criticality throughout the realisation of the Sculpture, from initial concept through the moulding, casting, colouring to realisation and siting the work.’ 

Sean de Courcy Student Award 

This is an annual award given to the best project on a concrete related topic from accredited masters and degree programmes in Civil and Structural engineering faculties of Higher Education Institutes on the island of Ireland. 

The award is named after the late Professor Sean de Courcy, an inspirational professor for many years at UCD, a former chairperson of the Irish Concrete Society, an author and historian of note. 

The student award jury was made up of Robert Laird (ESB) and Cloragh Byrne (Arup). 

Recipient: Méabh Childs (Trinity College Dublin) 

Project Title: The role of notches in the bond behaviour of sustainable bamboo reinforced concrete 

About the Irish Concrete Society 

The Irish Concrete Society is a learned society founded in 1973 to support and encourage technical excellence in concrete. It is a cross-sectorial, independent, impartial, science-based organisation. With membership open to all who have an interest in concrete. 

The Society acts as a focal point for industry debate, research, education, standards development in the field of concrete technology, design, and construction. The Society is a not-for-profit organisation funded by membership subscriptions and the services it offers.