Aillwee Cave, Ballyvaughan, Co. Clare, billed as Irelands Premier Showcave, has over 100,000 visitors each year. It is situated on the Burren in Co. Clare . The entrance to the cave is through an award winning building set into the cliff face and composed of massive limestone boulders.
Opposite this entrance is another building also built of massive stone and free form in design. Our brief was to fill the gap between the buildings with a demountable structure capable of acting as a holding area for the public and a space for entertainment. The solution was a tensile poled structure designed to reflect the informal plan of the site
The poles were of different heights, not in line and set at an angle leaning from the base of the cave entrance. The anchor points were also set at different heights, along the cliff on one side, the irregular building on the other and at ground level at the entrances
The result is a structure which reflects, exactly, the space in which it is set. It represents the structural opposite of our dome structures : free form, devoid of regular geometry, depending upon its surroundings for support as opposed to freestanding, clearspan, framed and of highly organised geometry.
The overall maximum dimensions are: length 30 metres, width 15 metres and height 8.5 metres. The structure is demountable, can be erected in 4.5 hours and has withstood winds in excess of 100 mph.