Reply To: Terrazzo [was Meath Hospital]

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The Department of Health brought out a book a few years on Hospital design from the formation of the state. It wasn’t bad either.

The thing about the Irish Arts Review is that its written by a small coterie of people who couldnt get writing jobs in the real world and people who post here couldnt get into that little clique to get published in the journal.

I agree wholeheartedly with the comments on architectural journalism. Shane O’Toole mentioned it in an article in last weeks Sunday Business Post –


There is much to do, and quickly, if we are not to bequeath “a legacy of bleak anonymity” to our children. According to the government’s task group on policy for the promotion of public awareness of architecture, low levels of expectation of new buildings and of awareness of architecture exacerbate the current predicament. This is further worsened by a lethal gap between the language of the professionals and that of the public, making debate and communication almost impossible. Whatever may be the public’s critical attitudes to new development, they are not expressed or heard in an effective manner.

That is hardly surprising when most newspaper commentary on Irish architecture is to be found in the media wilderness of the property pages. Things are done differently in other countries. There, debate on contemporary architecture, on recently completed buildings, is part of the everyday, critical content of reputable newspapers and magazines. In the newsagents of almost any European railway station you can buy half a dozen different architectural magazines published in Germany, Italy or Spain. In Britain, correspondents, such as Rowan Moore of the Evening Standard, Jonathan Glancey of The Guardian and Hugh Pearman of The Sunday Times drive a lively debate on the current state of the art.

It remains true in Ireland that contemporary architecture lacks a popular following, in the sense that much of the population is reluctant to identify with the architectural language set before it, seeking refuge in a caricature of the past. But the same could have been said of the Irish music scene 20 years ago. And look at the sophistication of many of our hotels and restaurants today. Look at the clothes we wear. When will one of our Irish newspapers take the public and social discussion of architecture and urban design to the next level? The demand is there. Archeire (, the website devoted to Irish architecture reports up to 150,000 pages accessed per month. That is pretty good traffic for what is to date a `niche’ subject.

It is widely acknowledged that a high plateau of general architectural quality has been scaled in recent years in Ireland. The peaks of the mountain will come within view only when the social discussion of architecture is extended beyond the specialists.

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