Faolán Bashford and Ciara Murray | Lisa Cassidy | Louise Clavin in collaboration with Eamon Keane | Peadar de Barra | Antóin Doyle | Cork Centre for Architectural Education (Erin Barclay, Ciara Barron, Matthew Barry, Vincent Barry, Eoghan Horgan, Richard Robinson, Mark Taylor) | FPU (Jarlath Cantwell, Donal Lally, Conor McGowan, Darren Snow) | University of Greenwich (Kitty O’Brien, Kelly Chan, Scott Ellis, Mascia Giovanni, Reenie Elliott) | Lawrence and Long | Emily Mannion and Thomas O’Brien | Blaithin Quinn | Res Publica (David Healy, Ronan Kenny, Conor O'Brien, Donal O'Herlihy, Ronan McCann, Michael Stack) | Rocker Lane Workshop (Seán Fogarty and Michael Heffernan) | Michael Stack | Tracy Staunton | UCD School of Architecture
‘Each afternoon I build myself an empire, and tear it down by evening, and it will blow away’
(from ‘Each Afternoon’ on the ‘Joining the Dots’ album by Rory Grubb, Musician, Songwriter and DIT Architecture Graduate)
Through the iterative process of layering we draw and redraw spaces. With each model, we think and rethink, setting out ideas about how the future might unfold. Each day within any school of architecture, hundreds of layers, models and ideas are generated. Ideas – speculative, optimistic, critical and delicate – are often intangible and often lost.
‘We Had an Idea about the Future’ is an exhibition featuring work by Irish architecture students, graduates and their collaborators as they present diverse and considered responses to the exhibition’s title. The exhibition, marking the closing of the centenary celebrations of UCD School of Architecture, looks to the next 100 years and Ireland’s next generation of architecture students, graduates and practitioners.
It is clear that aspects of the architectural process are changing dramatically. A sense of the contemporary studio environment is wistfully evoked by Louise Clavin and Eamon Keane’s soundscape. “We are no longer tied to the mayline,’ Louise Clavin writes. ‘No longer confined to the office or the studio. Those renderings and collages we all saw 7 years ago, of people sitting in parks with laptops, have materialised and are a common sight these days. The act of design and drawing beautiful lines is still a solitary act in its essence. The sound of work being completed with intense concentration [...] the persistent click of the mouse [...] Imagine a room full of bees’.
The growing role technology plays in society is again addressed in the work of the students of Cork Centre for Architectural Education. They present a provocative short film predicting the seamless union of human and virtual behaviour in the future. Yet their outlook seems to diverge as they ask, ‘at what cost will this be to our physical and mental worlds?’
Unrealised work is a reoccurring theme in the work presented. With little building on site over the past four years architectural practices are increasingly focused on speculative work and design competitions. As Peadar DeBarra notes, ‘often imaginary architecture is used as a catalyst to further architectural thought and vision.’ Lawrence and Long present three unrealised projects which individually relate to ideas about the way we live, the way we work and the way we gain an appreciation of culture. Furthermore, if architects have long been engaged in the process of describing new buildings, how might they engage in undoing and unbuilding? Antóin Doyle’s video work suggests the need for our existing context to be reimagined and urges a ‘provocation of opinion on value and use.’
The 13 exhibitors have responded to an open call extended to anyone who has studied architecture on the island of Ireland. Since the foundation of the UCD School of Architecture 100 years ago there are now seven schools of architecture on the island. Former UCD students are now educators in schools of architecture in Ireland and abroad. Irish architecture graduates and their students at the University of Greenwich explore topical ideas of alternative farming. ‘As the space around our cities becomes politically controlled and our population’s growth continues to expand, the future of our cities will depend on the alternative farming methodology that they adopt’.
A number of works in the exhibition are the fruits of collaborative practices between architects and other professionals. RockerLane Workshop is the result of an ongoing collaboration between architect Sean Fogarty and master craftsman Michael Heffernan. Artist Emily Mannion and architect Tom O’Brien’s site specific and collaborative installation ‘explores our preconception of familiar environments’. The hanging work ‘broods and swells just outside the limits of its form, unfolding and reshaping before our eyes’. Artist Faolán Bashford and architect
Ciara Murray ask the audience to consider the purpose and effect of man-made spaces. They also ask ‘is it possible to release ourselves from a mindset of confinement and discover a different way to conceive our spaces?’
Tracy Staunton and Michael Stack both explore our human need to measure and mark the passage of time. Tracy Staunton presents looks at ways of thinking, drawing and performing time; past and future. ‘Wounded Time’ is an investigation in drawing, video, and writing into ‘heterochronic’ spaces in the city of Dublin. Michael Stack also attempts to measure, describe and visualise time and his calendar presents ‘O’ as ‘both a primitive and intuitive way to trace time and the seasons.’
FPU (Jarlath Cantwell, Donal Lally, Conor McGowan, Darren Snow) minimally and cryptically describe their work: ‘Appropriate redevelopment may follow this response to failed economics and nostalgia.’
Res Publica propose that there is an opportunity arising to begin a public conversation on the future occupation of Stephenson Gibney and Associates’ Central Bank, in light of the mooted move of the bank’s operations to the docklands area. They propose that the Dame Street building espouses ‘the inherent optimism of modernism’. For many, it is also inextricably connected to both Ireland’s economic collapse and the ambition of the ‘Occupy’ movement. ‘How would you occupy this space?’ they ask.
Participation and activation by the viewer is also a feature of the work of artist and architect Blaithin Quinn. Quinn has facilitated a collaborative drawing workshop in advance of the exhibition launch. As a starting point participants were asked to bring an image or an object that represented contemporary design. Documentation of this event and other contributions from throughout the exhibition’s run will be placed in a 100 year time capsule. Visitors will be invited to make their personal mark in response to the exhibition theme. The capsule will act as an archive for the future. After the exhibition, the time capsule will be presented to UCD School of Architecture for storage until it is opened in 2112, the bi-centenary year.
The variety and scope of the responses to this open call are an indication of the potential diversity in approaches, mediums and critical fields of discourse that an architectural education could lend itself to in the years ahead. The work reawakens the idea that multiple and alternative futures are always possible, and that imagining these futures is a fundamental aspect of training as an architect. What are the many and varied roles that this next generation of architecture students, graduates and professionals might play as we look to the one hundred years ahead? What ideas do we wish to send into the future?
We Had An Idea About The Future Curatorial Team
Dublin, June 2012
Launch of the UCD Oral History
To mark the centenary of UCD School of Architecture, this documentary draws on interviews with 31 graduates and former staff members to tell the School an oral history. Recorded, edited, and produced by Lisa Cassidy.
Site specific temporary intervention
Site Specific Temporary Intervention by Jonny Cardy, Sean Lynch, Elspeth Lee, Damian Milton, Emmet McKenna, Donn Holohan, and Dawn Parke. ‘Disseminating Architecture’ at UCD led by Prof. Hugh Campbell with Lisa Cassidy.
Exhibition Curatorial Team
The exhibition ‘We had an idea about the Future’ was initiated by the ‘We Had an Idea About the Future Curatorial Group’ as part of an elective in ‘Disseminating Architecture’ at UCD led by Prof. Hugh Campbell with Lisa Cassidy. The ‘We Had An Idea About The Future Curatorial Team’ are: Bróna Waldron, Caoimhe Merrick, Ciara McCurtin, Jennifer McLoughlin, Jo Anne Butler, Shane Twohig, and Tara Kennedy.
Disseminating Architecture Group
Aisling Ahern, Jo Anne Butler, Jonny Cardy, Donn Holohan, Tara Kennedy, Paul Laurent Hughes, Elspeth Lee, Sean Lynch, Ciara McCurtin, Caoimhe Merrick, Damian Milton, Emmet McKenna, Dawn Parke, Shane Twohig, Bróna Waldron.
Led by Hugh Campbell with Lisa Cassidy.