Excerpt from Frank McDonald's article in the Irish Times from October 22nd:
Denis Byrne himself was in Smithfield on Saturday, where he was one of the adjudicators for a day-long competition to design new living spaces on a city council site at Lower Dominick Street, in response to an informal brief by Ali Grehan.
â€œThe general thought was about how people could live there, rather than a geometric exercise,â€ she said.
Seventeen teams of young architects and students took part in the competition, drawing up plans and making models in a vacant retail unit on the corner of Haymarket.
According to Alice Clancy, of Now What?, passers-by were really intrigued by all the activity: â€œWhatâ€™s going on in there? Why is everyone working so hard?â€ they asked.
Outside, a flashing digital sign posed the provocative question, â€œWhat is the spirit of gracious living anyway?â€. It prompted more questions about the role of architects in Irish society and led to discussions about the need for collaboration with engineers, planners and artists, with older and younger generations working together, Clancy said.
â€œWe thought originally Now What? was going to be a summer thing. But everyone involved was so dedicated that it became something else.
â€œIt also showed that thereâ€™s a need for a workshop like this in the city â€“ more rough than Darc, a place that would allow people to experiment with art, photography, architecture and design.â€
The Dominick Street competition, for prizes of books rather than actual commissions, was jointly won by architects Michael Pike and Grace Keeley, who produced an exquisite model in balsawood, and three fourth year students from DIT School of Architecture in Bolton Street: Jamie Conway, Cormac Nolan and Elizabeth Gaynor.
More remarkable perhaps was that the runners-up were three Italians (Gessica Cozi, Federico Scoponi and Luca Trufarelli), only one of whom is an architect â€“ and they had heard about the competition on the grapevine.
Their project dealt with the grain of the city, instead of concentrating, as others did, on the design of an individual plot.