This is Mark Keenan, I wrote the article.
This mail actually made me finally get off my behind and register with this truly orgasmically excellent (shameless plug?) web site.
Yes it's true we have shamelessly featured one ODOS project after the next over a period of a couple of years. We have also featured many other well known names in Irish architure but yes, ODOS work has been shown in our publication more than anyone else's.
There are a number of reasons for this:
1. Shortage of projects
For obvious reasons very little work has been commissioned by way of contemporary one-off homes in these last few years. We therefore gravitate to the few practices who are producing. While we have featured work by almost every truly great Irish practice over the last ten years, lately there seems to be only a handful wrorking through commissions of the sort that we like to cover.
2. ODOS - its respective talents
In the Home Ireland pages of the Sunday Times, we try to show our readers what's new and great in modern Irish architecture. ODOS work is always original, eyecatching, exciting - all the reasons we want to feature it and why our readers want to see it.
ODOS are also unusually prolific and they come out with one stunning project after another in rapid succession. Do we ignore the likes of Thor Place and The Rathmines Returns simply because we've featured ODOS before? We decided not.
3. Willingness to talk and expose their work to the public eye
- ODOS are among the best self marketeers out there, which is also probably one of the reasons (apart from their obvious talent) why they have so much work coming in.
4. The general unwillingness of other practices to have their work in a newspaper
- Yes ODOS are (as I very pointedly wrote) "willing to talk to anyone about any project." Pointedly said because so many other practices simply won't have their work shown off and actually tend to guard it and hide it as if its the last secret of Fatima.
Indeed over years and years I have approached/implored one award winning practice after another for permission to publish and showcase their work (they know who they are, and I'm not going to have a go at them in a public forum) only to be turned down flat, sometimes rudely so.
Indeed many of Ireland's most talented home designers react to a request for an interview and pictures as if we're looking to give them bubonic plague, pull their teeth, steal their souls, or force them into some hardcore neo Georgian graft round Kinnegad way.
We have turned down others ourselves because they demand to choose the pictures and write/censor the articles. I have interviewed some reflective souls for an hour or more only to come away with nothing but a notebook full of: "I wouldn't say that...." Indeed I once found myself in the ridiculous position of commissioning a sneaky shoot of some top mews work from one top practice which "forbid" us from covering it.
At some point we put up our hands and said.."let them be.."
Numerous attempts by Home Ireland to publicly showcase Ireland's considerable design talent via the various architectural awards have come up against embargos - those which favour specialist magazines of the sort that nobody except architects (certainly not their clients) actually reads. Writers with other general newspapers and glossies have also fumed with me on this one.
Last year the difficulties I experienced culminated in me actually contacting an awards judge and senior Institute figure to request that the issue of publicity value be raised in some way among members.
I argued that Irish architecture just isn't getting into the big picture with the public (our paper for example, is read by 400,000 weekly in Ireland - some 70,000 more than the Irish Times).
The last decade has been a truly great one for Irish architecture but too many Joe Soaps still don't understand the profession's worth. We try to show that and indeed we cover more domestic architecture than any other paper. And if punters don't see examples of great Irish architecture in the papers they read then they're more likely to hire Bodge the Builder to throw up a crap extension instead of paying the same money to a navel gazing young genius in order to end up with something truly special. Something which improves their lives and keeps our ng genius employed.
Coincidentally, before I saw this item raised here, I had just approached the RIAI with the suggestion of regular "mass mail outs" to members on various subjects on which we at the Sunday Times Home Section are seeking input for forthcoming features.
For example, this coming Sunday we're doing a piece on "Unbuilt Ireland - the homes which never were" (ODOS is barred this time) and a piece on hemp house building. Anyone eager to submit work or impart professional wisdom on either can call me at 01-4792438. The results have been encouraging for us - the former has actually had a very good response and is likely to run to two part series.
At the Sunday Times we want to bring our readers exciting, contemporary homes. So come on in ....if you're hard enough...
PS: And to Mr/Ms What?'s specifically ...
(a) No I don't work in ODOS.
(b) Pray do tell who you are - if you're an architect, you might have better work for us to publish....
(c) Yes I agree, it is really annoying ..... so I propose we solve this heated matter once and for all, by proposing a dual embargo from both institutes on ODOS to prevents them from banging out one top class project after another...or to at least slow them down just a little.