PLANES and bikes, a giant metal elk, body armour and flotation devices, kitchen trolleys and adjustable heels, roof structures and tests on the seismic performance of buildings - all just a few of the creative projects on display at the Design@UL showcase which opened this week.
The exhibition, featuring the work of over 120 students from a range of disciplines in the University, has taken over the former Franciscan Church on Henry Street for the second year in a row, part of what UL president Don Barry told the Limerick Leader was an attempt to be “more visible in the city”.
“We are constantly looking for ways to be more visible in the city and this is a really good way to do it, and I hope this will be an annual event,” he explained.
“We have fabulous students and this gives them an opportunity to show off to the people of Limerick what they can do.
“I hope lots of people will come to see it over the next few days, because it is really worth looking at how smart, inventive and innovative these kids are, they are really fantastic,” he added.
The exhibition brings together the diversity of design skills of the UL students of architecture, civil engineering, product design, mechanical and aeronautical engineering, architectural and engineering technology and digital and interactive media.
The work is presented through their drawings, models, projections, photographs, prototypes, texts, films and sketchbooks and features “many significant and ground-breaking pieces which should interest a wide audience”, according to organiser Maria Donoghue of the UL School of Architecture.
“The layout is quite dispersed. The courses are mixed throughout the space so that there are no boundaries between them,” she explained.
“People can mill around, it is quite free and we are trying to show the overlap between the disciplines, they actually have a lot more in common than people might perceive. The process of design is often quite shared.”
There is also an intriguing focus on Limerick as a city by the work of architecture and design studios, manifested in an extensive range of models and drawings dotted around the exhibition.
This impressive work, particularly among the latest batch of architects to emerge from UL, shows that they clearly have much to contribute to the city and its regeneration and restoration.
“We do feel that it is important to let the city know that there is such a strong culture in UL, and we want to make our presence felt. It is hard sometime to demonstrate urban thinking when you are out in the suburbs - it is a little bit ironic,” added Ms Donoghue.
Fourth year product design student Jon Harrison, from Dooradoyle, designed ‘Okoro’ - an on-pitch workout system for pre-weight training rugby players, which he hopes to see put into production.
“It uses the resistance bands that physios give out, like those used in Pilates, and the idea is to tighten up the muscles so that when they go into games and collisions happen, injuries are less frequent,” he explained.
The model on display was, he explained, a “third scale, visionary model”.
“I have made full scale models and tested different shapes. Every test I did proved that it worked,” he said.
“It has potential for manufacturing purposes, if nothing else I hope it will get me a good grade and gets me through and a job,” he laughed.
The exhibition is open until Saturday, daily from 10am-6pm.