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During the 4 days of St. Patricks Festival in 2015, 5 art installations created by What if Dublin, a twitter based web platform, and commissioned by the Irish Architecture Foundation were on display in 5 locations in the city center area as part of the #ILoveMyCity programme, sponsored by Irish Design 2015 and St Patrick’s Festival. With “five installations, five locations, four days and one city”, the public was animated to engage in a conversation about the potential of the city and linked the online campaign with the physical spaces discussed.
What If Dublin are a small collective of young architects, designers and urban researchers. They started What If Dublin to stay engaged with what is happening in the city. “We have always been passionate about Dublin and the latent potential the city has but never had a forum to open these ideas up to wider discussion,” one of the group told us. They felt there was a lack of discussion in planning processes in Dublin and they saw the opportunity to use Twitter as a space to start a dialogue.
They are an anonymous group, so will remain unnamed, as they want to let the images and ideas they propose speak for themselves. In their own words, “as ‘facilitators’ or ‘animators’ we try not to impose our own opinion but to ask open questions, connect and learn from others”
They were originally a trio and there are now four people involved in What If Dublin. It is an evolving group and they hope to grow to include people from other professions, with other ideas and points of reference. They also hope to hook up with similar groups across Ireland in other cities. What If Dublin are working on a website and are looking into possibilities of how to transform the positive energy and feedback that they are receiving into something physical and meaningful. They believe that the citizens of Dublin can have a real say in the future of the city.
Five city centre locations have been selected: Kevin Street, Moore Street, Liffey North Quays, Smithfield Fruit and Vegetable Market and Abbey Street. All spaces they consider full of potential, “they are either important to Dublin’s development due to their size, location and history (Smithfield, Moore Street, Liffey North Quays) or due to their exemplary character (Kevin Street, Abbey Street). Some of the sites are currently in the process of being transformed, for some the battle isn’t fought yet.”
From 14 to 17 March 2015 five steel benches with acrylic sheets mounted onto them will be at the five sites. The acrylic screens will display the group’s proposed futures for the five sites. “These visualisations are viewed through a transparent acrylic screen and graft our proposals onto the existing [site] so, in a sense, we are bringing the imagined and virtual closer to the existing and real.”
This visualisation works by viewing the site from a certain distance and angle through the acrylic screen and the benches are strategically placed to see the proposed images on top of the existing site. The passersby can have a sit, have a look and come up with their own ideas. In this way they will engage with a part of their city that they might have passed daily, but never really considered as a space with potential for so much more.