12 September 2008: Ireland's participation at the 11th Venice Architecture Biennale opens

The Ambassador of Ireland, Sean O’Huiginn and Míchéal O Suilleabhain, Chairperson, Culture Ireland today opened ‘The Lives of Spaces’ - Ireland’s participation at the 11th International Architecture Exhibition at the Palazzo Guistinian Lolin in Venice. The Irish entry to the Venice Architecture Biennale is a Culture Ireland initiative, in partnership with the Arts Council, sponsored by the Royal Institute of Architects of Ireland and the Embassy of Ireland to Italy. 

Today also marks the commencement of the judging for the highly coveted ‘Golden Lion’ award, presented to the best national pavilion. ‘The Lives of Spaces’ is one of 65 national participations - a record number for the Venice Architecture Biennale.

The Irish Architecture Foundation (IAF) Director Nathalie Weadick and co-commissioner and co-curator Dr Hugh Campbell, Senior Lecturer in Architecture at UCD, developed the theme of the exhibition and selected nine responses for inclusion at this key international showcase. 

Speaking at the opening, O Suilleabhain said: "Culture Ireland is proud to support Ireland's presentation at the Venice Architecture Biennale.  The exhibition powerfully evokes the Irish experience of  living within designed spaces, many of which are unique to Ireland.   At the same time the quality and standard of the work ensures that it can take its place at the highest international level."

Claire Doyle, Head of Visual Arts at the Arts Council said: "The Arts Council has been supporting architecture since 1951 and is proud to contribute ongoing support, assistance and encouragement to architects in order that they may fulfil their potential as creative artists. The nine pieces featured in this exhibition explore just how central a role space has in our society. In reflecting on the spatial in Irish life, they offer a challenging portrait both of what we are, and what we are becoming. We are very pleased to have been able to play our part in making this exhibition possible."

Eugene Downes, CEO, Culture Ireland said: "Ireland’s participation is a departure from more traditional formats: the exhibition examines the impact of space on our lives, and the key role that architecture plays in determining the effect of space. We are delighted to support the showcasing of Irish architecture as an artform." 

Included in The Lives of Space are projects currently in design and construction, as well as examinations of existing spaces. The exhibition involves many new collaborations and experiments, which open up new ways of envisaging, designing and understanding space.

  • The spatial character and the life in use of the recently opened Youth Centre in Tallaght will be investigated by Grainne Hassett.
  • Gerry Cahill will examine the changing use of sacred space in Ireland, focussing on the Mercy Convent in Cork Street.
  • Using linked sequences of perspective views O’Donnell + Tuomey will show the movement of light through the central space of An Gael?ras, a cultural centre in Derry.
  • Patrick Lynch and Simon Walker will document the life of Bóthar Buí, the West Cork holiday home of Robin and Dorothy Walker which, despite its modest scale and character, has played a crucial role in the cultural life of the nation over many decades.
  • Drawing on their work on a series of cultural and civic spaces in regional centres, McCullough Mulvin will investigate the transition from space in design to space in use.
  • Dara McGrath in association with Robinson McIlwaine will present his stark photographs of the deconstruction of the Maze/Long Kesh prison, a space of iconic political significance.
  • De Paor Architects will show their proposed Picture Palace in Galway, focussing on the spatial journey from street to cinema.
  • Cian Deegan and Alice Casey from TAKA will use a series of domestic projects to consider the ritual character of home space.
  • Grafton Architects are to present a film, which considers the relationship of interior space and city in two recent projects - the Universita Luigi Bocconi in Milan and their office development for the OPW on Merrion Row in Dublin.

The chosen venue for The Lives of Spaces is Palazzo Giustinian Lolin, a palace on the Gran Canal next to the Accademia Bridge. The scale, character and decoration of these typically Venetian rooms will provide a setting appropriate for the exhibition’s theme. Furniture in the exhibition has been supplied as sponsorship by Arper, Italy.

The 11th International Architecture Exhibition will take place in Venice from September 14 to November 23.

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Yelemba dance troupe from the Ivory Coast - Clonmel Junction Festival.

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