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We want architecture to be a civic right and a confident expression of who we are and who we might become and on 13 February we launched our five-year Strategic Plan 2019-2023 and announced our 2019 Programme.
For more than a decade, we have established a track record of delivering major projects, primarily aimed at developing audiences for architecture in Ireland, while also raising the profile of Irish architecture abroad . Mostly known for our flagship annual architecture festival Open House Dublin, which remarkably achieves 31,000 visits to heritage, modern and contemporary buildings in three days, a lesser known fact is that we work all year round to deliver a wealth of activities that reach across countries, counties and communities. In all its work, we are driven by the need to raise the profile of Irish architecture and engage a diverse and growing public following. We are motivated by a vision which sees a future where architecture is a civic right, fundamental to the fabric of life, culture and history, a confident expression of who we are and who we might become as a nation.
The evidence speaks for itself. Through an inspirational programme we have connected hundreds of architects with tens of thousands of people, since the beginning of Open House Dublin that amounts to over a quarter of a million visits to architecture by the general public. We have gone into 211 schools to engage with teachers, students and architects. We have delivered 13 international events in Europe and the USA. We have reached people aged from 8 to 80. Building on that success we have published our Strategic Plan 2019-2023, following intensive consultation last summer.
Our Chairperson, Pauline Byrne, says…
‘This plan is inclusive and collaborative and builds on our success to date and clearly sets out a road map for the future. We will work with architects, communities, policymakers and creative professionals on initiatives that tackle the most pressing social, cultural, and ecological challenges of the built environment’.
The local, national and international landscape in which we operate, our achievements to date, and our collective recognition of the importance of architecture provides a rich context for us, as we set out with courage and optimism three key messages to achieving our objective.
The 16 page document, which is now available to download HERE, lays out our vision, mission and goals and in summary it states 3 key objectives:
– To empower communities to shape their environment: We believe that cultural participation and engagement can significantly enhance the well being of society. We will support groups to become more involved in the design process in their neighbourhoods and to work with architects.
– To champion Irish architecture on a national and international stage: We will collaborate and build strategic partnerships outside of Dublin, at a regional, national and international level and grow our strong infrastructure of allied agencies (inside and outside architecture) that will work together to ensure architecture matters.
– To lay the groundwork for a centre for architecture: We have an audience that is engaged and growing, a network that is national and international, a sector that is active and responsive, a following that is in need of innovative solutions and creative responses to urgent issues in the contemporary built world, so it makes sense to campaign for the creation of a national centre for architecture, which will have a dedicated exhibition and learning space to serve our audience, with a national and international remit to strengthen the mission of the IAF. A new centre will enhance the public’s understanding of the creative, social and historical impact of architecture, in addition to building a culture that supports current and new practice in architecture.
The 2019 programme, delivers on the spirit of the plan and communicates effectively the starting point for the next stage in our campaign.
Nathalie Weadick, Director of the IAF said about the Programme 2019…
‘’Our role is in facilitating wide public engagement and being a channel across multiple sectors including culture, arts, community, education and innovation. At a moment in which the ways we live, work, and think are shifting, we should take time to consider and question how we frame our understanding of architecture and its relationship to people, culture, society and the environment”.
Our educational remit has continued to grow a strong learning programme, which includes the National Architects in Schools Initiative, which is reaching 31 schools across the island, this initiative funded by the Arts Council, the Dept. Education and Skills and Dept. of Culture Heritage and the Gaeltacht, places an architect in a school to work on a specific project with students and teachers.
In addition to providing a discursive space about architecture for its publics, we have become actively involved in physically shaping the built environment. We received an award from the Creative Ireland National Creativity Fund for a community-led design initiative called Reimagine, to be rolled out across seven towns in 2019. Reimagine takes its cue from our strategic objective to enable people to contribute and improve their built environment and to develop practice in this area among architects. The towns and communities will be announced in March 2019.
We are producing the tour of Close Encounter: Meetings with Remarkable Buildings, which will open in The Glucksman, Cork from 6 April – 30 June. This exhibition of sixteen projects by current and emerging Irish architects was created for the 16th International Architecture Exhibition in Venice, by curators Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara, and co-curated by Hugh Campbell. Gathered in a single large space, sixteen architectural projects – varying widely in type, in size, in age, in location and in character – are presented. They all exemplify how architecture can sustain and enhance life. After Cork we will tour the exhibition to Visual Carlow in September. This tour is funded by the Arts Council and additional support by Dublin Port Company.
To accompany the exhibition we are collaborating with The Glucksman and National Sculpture Factory to deliver an international conference on Curating Architecture on Saturday 6 April in Cork, with speakers from the V&A London, MAAT Lisbon, Arkdes Stockholm and Tallin Architecture Biennale.
Delivering on this objective to encourage more architecture exhibitions, we are announcing our first Curating Architecture Residency, funded by the Arts Council. The residency was awarded to Brian Ward and Sarah Sheridan, who will reveal the achievements of Marian Mahoney born in Chicago in 1871, daughter of an emigrant from Cork, who worked for Frank Lloyd Wright in the early 20th Century, left and went on to design the city of Canberra Australia with her husband Walter Burley Griffin and 200 buildings in India. The exhibition will open in the IAF HQ, 15 Bachelor’s Walk, Dublin 1, in June 2019.
We have teamed up with the International Literature Festival Dublin to curate The Architect Reads, featuring architects reading from their publications. In the line up we have Kester Rattenbury’s, The Wessex Project about Thomas Hardy the poet and writer who was also an architect; Shane O’Toole, 101 Hosannas for Architecture, a chronicle of architectural culture; and Owen O’Doherty’s book telling the stories of genius inventors who were women called Bright Sparks.
The NewNowNext talks, curated by the IAF and sponsored by Arup is back again this year with an “A” list line up of internationally renowned architects, such as Dorte Mandrup (Danish) on 7 March, known for her environmental concerns, Sou Fujimoto (Japanese) on 7 May, known for his innovative solutions for housing and creative pavilions such as the Serpentine Pavilion, and Sir David Adjaye (British/Ghanaian) on 29 November, his work is currently on show in the Design Museum London.
Ireland’s biggest architecture festival, Open House Dublin, is back for the 14th time from 11 – 13 October. It is a simple but powerful idea: showcasing outstanding architecture for everyone to experience. Buildings that are not usually accessible to the public and buildings of architectural merit open their doors for one weekend, with tours provided by expert guides.
Photo by Ste Murray