Re: Re: lecture tonight

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Okay, I took a hell of a lot away from this talk tonight, but one lesson was just pure priceless, for myself at least. One thinks about going to visit some good architecture abroad, everyone has their own wish list of ‘must-see’ built architecture around the globe,… etc, etc,… but then I see this interesting work the office was doing with Cork IT, and I have to say, I now feel a little bit stupid, to think, I have never investigated their work at Cork IT campus in the flesh. Sure, the work at Cork IT has been highlighted I think, with an AAI Award or two. I mean, you almost expect this practice to be in the shake up for an Award nowadays. In fact, I used to wave off, De Blacam and Meagher projects as the perfect Architecture to win awards with. But I am glad to report, that after tonight’s presentation at DIT Bolton Street, Mr. Meagher has managed to convince me, I need to look deeper at their architecture, than just spending two seconds viewing an AAI catalogue page about their latest masterpiece.

It calls into question the whole AAI Award, ‘chicken and egg’ format of presentation, doesn’t it? It just makes it too easy, for any of us, without getting off our behinds, to just dismiss something, because ‘we saw it in the Awards’. Somehow, the AAI Awards claim to be an independent barometer of good work happening here in this country. But I think it just packages together a bunch of cool looking architectural photography etc, – so much so, I am starting to worry about it’s signal to noise ratio. What message is it indeed trying to convey – with all due respect to the fine volunteers who have managed to keep that venerable old Association running for many a year.

Unlike any AAI Awards Exhibition, somehow Mr. Meagher’s talk tonight educated me, at least, to all the opportunities that can exist, even in Ireland, to explore interesting architectural programmes and arrangements of public buildings and space. In the lecture he described some of the early conceptualisation of how Trinity campus worked – a very, very old campus with a reputation that draws tourists from everywhere – and it was bookended very nicely indeed in the talk, by this new campus in Cork which is only breaking the ground for the first time. Somehow from the few slides in tonight’s talk, I didn’t get the impression that Cork IT new additions, landed from outer space in the form of some gigantic ‘H’ Block figure.

Lets face it, a lot of us were educated in a ‘H’ block of one kind or another, yet no matter, how old these ‘H’ blocks become, you never feel like they have grown old and integrated with the place, or the community – they always feel like something supplied from a mail order brochure of the Welfare State – they seem designed to ‘say’ we provide for the people – just like some campaign poster wrapped around a lampost or something. Yeah, I can safely say, I grew up and even managed to reach adulthood (no laughing) with a perception that educational architecture’s brief, had to be something expressingly saying ‘providing cabins for poor people to learn in’,… or something to that effect.

I mean, I think that ‘portacabin feel’ has left some pretty deeply engrained impressions upon the Irish population of what an educational building should be about. I guess, generations older than me, might have similar thoughts on the architecture the catholic church implemented for the purposes of education. I think, I might have come away from this lecture tonight with something new in terms of how I perceive educational architecture. But this ‘change of perception trick’ isn’t just restricted to Educational Buildings. Residential living room spaces on the first floor are a very logical idea, I think, in either rural or urban situations. Both Mr. Meagher and several other practices in Ireland have changed our perceptions in that sphere lately. It even extends to materials – and peoples’ perception of what wood should look like – that it must be varnished etc. Even something like a bicycle shop – I always liked this piece about Cycle Ways shop in Parnell Street, it is interesting I think.

Nice Talk, thanx Bolton Street.

Brian O’ Hanlon.

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