Ireland at Venice 2012 opens at CHQ


An exhibition celebrating the return of Ireland’s representation at the Venice Architecture Biennale 2012 has opened in Dublin’s CHQ Building in the Docklands. Ireland at Venice 2012 is an initiative of Culture Ireland a division of the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht and the Arts Council. The exhibition opens to coincide with the European Forum on Architectural Policy (EFAP) conference, part of Ireland’s EU Presidency events.

On opening the exhibition Ruairí Quinn, T.D., Minister for Education & Skills said, “This exhibition is a celebration of the success, nationally and internationally, of the achievements of contemporary Irish architecture. High quality design is a key element in the delivery of a sustainable future.”

The national tour, starting in Dublin is supported by the Arts Council. The national representation features the work of heneghan peng architects, while the exhibition will also feature two other architecture firms that exhibited in the Biennale. Grafton Architects, who won the prestigious Silver Lion Award, and O’Donnell & Tuomey Architects, were invited to participate by the Artistic Director, internationally renowned architect David Chipperfield.

For the Irish Pavilion at the 13th International Architecture Exhibition in Venice, heneghan peng architects designed an oscillating ‘bench’ that invites visitors to balance their respective weights. The work considers issues of geometry and numbers in the architects’ work, while the level of the ‘bench’ was measured from the mark of the acqua alta (water line) on the old brickwork of the Arsenale building in Venice.

Grafton Architect’s exhibit explores themes of ‘architecture as built geography’ and ‘abstracted landscape’, focussing on two structures by two different architectural practices, forming a sense of ‘Common Ground’. The two structures are, the Brazilian architect Mendes daRocha’s Serra Dourada Stadium in Goiania, Brazil and Grafton Architects’ university campus in Lima.

O’Donnell and Tuomey Architects invited practitioners to contribute to their installation ‘Vessel’. The title “Vessel” has associations with both circulation and craft, and is suggestive of embodiment, enshrinement and containment. “Our Common Ground is collected under this heading, highlighting the relation of ideas, objects, and materials that combine , inform and influence our work”.

At the opening Orlaith McBride, Director of the Arts Council said “Supporting a national tour of Ireland’s representation at the Venice Biennale is critical to the Arts Council’s policy of bringing the best of Irish arts to Irish audiences. It is part of our commitment to promote architecture to Irish audiences. The Biennale is the most important international cultural arena in which to platform Ireland’s architects and, with this in mind, the Arts Council will continue to ensure that the exhibit returns home for the benefit of communities across the country. We hope that people will visit this exhibition, whether that is in Dublin, Cork or Galway.”

This is the first exhibition of the national tour of the Irish representation in Venice which will be also shown as part of the Galway Arts Festival in July and at the National Sculpture Centre in Cork in September.