A new centre to celebrate the worldwide Irish community is under construction on Queens Road in Cheetham Hill, Manchester.
The £4 million first phase of the project will embrace an Irish global family of 70 million people through the creation of the Irish Diaspora Museum, which will boast collections, documents and exhibitions to present the history of Irish emigration and the development of the global Irish family.
The main contractor for the project is Willmott Dixon Group and the architect is Ellis Williams Architects.
Phase 1 began in October 2011 and is scheduled for completion in December 2012. Funding has been provided via grants from the Irish government and Manchester City Council, with further monies sourced from the sale of the existing centre and funding provided by The Co-operative Bank.
Prior to the project, the site was a former domestic tip and Victorian brickworks. Comprising approximately 1,300 sq metres, the steel-frame building spans two storeys and includes a double-height entrance hall, exhibition space and a bar, shop and kitchen. Additional facilities include a multipurpose hall, a business centre and an education centre.
The building has incorporated timber cladding and glass curtain walling, whilst further features include a copper effect roof and elevations that have been constructed using natural stone sourced from County Donegal in Ireland.
To date, the external envelope is complete and the building is now watertight. The stone cladding of the exterior is currently being erected, whilst the implementation of the services and internal finishes has also recently commenced.
Paul Stanion, a consultant for Davis Langdon LLP, an AECOM company that is providing project management and CMDC consultant services on the project, commented:
“This is an extremely interesting building as it tells the story of Irish emigration to the five continents of the world. The curved building features a 2-metre high natural stone wall that creates a large circular external area, in turn replicating an old Celtic ring fort design – which is something that is commonly found in Ireland.
“As visitors come through the double-height entrance, they will walk over a stone floor that has incorporated the names of all of the Irish families who have travelled to the four corners of the Earth. The centre of the ring fort will house marquees for weddings, whilst visitors who walk outside will walk over a bridge over water, signifying the Irish travels over water to emigrate.
“The new Irish World Heritage Centre will be an important facility for both the Irish community and many other ethnic communities in Greater Manchester, and the building is on track to achieve a BREEAM rating of Excellent.
“Phase Two of the project is the next goal, and will see the construction of a new conference centre and restaurant complex. This phase will commence following a fundraising campaign.”