Central Bank, Open House Dublin 2015 (Photo: Ste Murray)
Open House Dublin is over for another year! An ever growing and ever evolving architecture festival, Open House Dublin follows a format that was established 23 years ago in London by Victoria Thornton to make architecture open and accessible to the public for a weekend and, critically, do it for free. Established and delivered in Dublin by the Irish Architecture Foundation (IAF), this is both the 10th anniversary of Open House Dublin and the IAF and with over 100 events, tours, talks, workshops, debates – and the city certainly felt like it was celebrating.
With a festival curator that now changes year on year, this year's theme selected by invitee Michael Hayes and IAF Director Nathalie Weadick, sharply reminded us of the relevance, purpose and potential of architectural design in our everyday lives by drawing close attention to the issue of housing and homes in Dublin. Access to people’s homes is always granted at Open House weekend, and it is apparently always very popular – we do love to see how people actually live, how designs have been implemented, how we lived in the past, how architects and homeowners have worked together to make extensions or brand new homes.
By using the theme This Place We Call Home for 2015 however, the IAF ensured that Open House made a more potent contribution to the housing discussion in this city, particularly at the Big Housing Debate which officially kicked off Open House in Liberty Hall last Wednesday. A gathering of academics, researchers, architects, planners, developers and an engaged audience participating in a two-hour discussion on some of the challenges facing us as a society as we try and provide homes for the many communities that need them. It felt like the discussion was getting started when it came to an end though, but what this appetiser-debate did show is that the issue of housing design is complex and difficult and reducing it to a debate on size and quality alone denies the complexity of the issue. It would be great for these debates and discussions to continue into 2016.
Across the weekend thousands of citizens visited, discussed, observed, participated and engaged with architecture, architects, the built environment and the city at large. With Open House festivals now also happening annually in Cork, Limerick and Galway, Open House Dublin proves – if proof were really needed – that Dubliners and indeed people beyond the city have a hungry appetite for architecture and design and that after 10 years this festival is now a really vital part of our annual festival landscape
The Arts Council annually funds the Irish Architecture Foundation. www.architecturefoundation.ie; www.openhousedublin.com
In 2016 the Arts Council will fund Open House Cork under the Engaging with Architecture Scheme. www.openhousecork.ie