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Grafton Architects Awarded the Silver Lion at La Biennale


Dublin based Grafton Architects has won the Silver Lion for a promising practice at the 13th International Architecture Exhibition at la biennale di Venezia.

Grafton Architects were chosen by the Director of the Biennale to feature in the exhibition’s notable international curator’s programme, and are one of four Irish firms at the Venice Architecture Biennale, supported by Culture Ireland. This year’s Biennale included the strongest ever representation of Irish architects.

Grafton Architects’ exhibition examines the potential of architecture in the city of Lima, where the firm has won a competition for a new university campus, UTEC. It includes comparative images of Skellig Michael and Machu Picchu and representations of Mendes da Rocha’s football stadium, Serra Dourada as reference for their idea for the university as an ‘arena of learning’. The exhibition also includes models in collaboration with sculptor Eileen Mac Donagh.

The reasons of the International Jury for awarding Grafton Architects were as such; ‘Silver Lion for a promising practice of the International Exhibition Common Ground’ – The Silver Lion of the International Exhibition Architecture as New Geography is awarded to Grafton Architects (Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara) as a promising and emerging practice. For their impressive presentation of a new University campus in Lima, connecting to the ideas of Paulo Mendes da Rocha. The jury believes that the conceptual and spatial qualities of this installation demonstrate the considerable potential of this architectural practice in reimagining the urban landscape.’

Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Jimmy Deenihan, T.D., who launched Ireland’s participation in Venice last month said: “I congratulate Grafton Architects on winning the prestigious Silver Lion Award. This is a remarkable achievement and will highlight the dynamism and creativity of Irish architecture worldwide.”

CEO of Culture Ireland, Christine Sisk, said: “Culture Ireland is delighted that Grafton Architects has received the Silver Lion Award for their fantastic presentation in Venice which they so deserve and which reflects the strong regard for Irish architecture globally. This presentation along with the Heneghan Peng and O’Donnell Tuomey exhibitions gave an outstanding sense of contemporary Irish architecture at this important international showcase.”

The Awards were presented by David Chipperfield, Director of the 13th Biennale, and Paolo Baratta, President of the Biennale. The Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement was awarded to Portuguese architect Alvaro Siza. For the National pavilions, the Golden Lion was awarded to the Japan Pavilion, curated by Toyo Ito who dedicated the award to the victims of the tsunami.

Culture Ireland is pleased to have supported Grafton Architects’ presentation as well as that of O’Donnell Toomey Architects, also selected by the Director in addition to Ireland’s National Representation by heneghan peng which is an initiative of Culture Ireland in partnership with The Arts Council of Ireland.

The 13th International Architecture Exhibition – la Biennale di Venezia opened to the public today and continues until 25 November 2012.