‘Architecture at the Edge’ 2020: Festival Programme Announced


Architecture at the Edge Festival returns 

October 2nd, 3rd and 4th throughout Galway City and Counties Galway and Mayo


Architecture at the Edge festival designed to help citizens understand the many ways architecture impacts our lives, has launched its programme for 2020. It offers a weekend full of online lectures, interviews, exhibitions and panel discussions – all live and all free.


For the past three years, Architecture at the Edge has put on the AATE festival celebrating Galway’s built landscape by opening the doors to the city and county’s architecture.  In response to Covid-19, this year’s festival has had to adapt to new ways of programming which means you can experience AATE in a number of different ways including art installations, and an expanded programme of online events. 


The theme for this year’s Architecture at the Edge will be related to ‘Boundaries‘. AATE invites you to reflect on the nature of thresholds, boundaries and borders at every scale, from the street edge to the geopolitical, from the manifest to the unstated. 


AATE Director Frank Monahan says of the theme ‘For the past three years, AATE has opened doors to buildings throughout the west of Ireland, and encouraged citizens to explore their built environment. We have done so because we believe that our towns and cities only truly flourish when they are open to all. We want to empower people to shape their built environment. To remove the boundaries to participation.’ 


‘To live in the west of Ireland is to be surrounded by boundaries: hedgerows, stone walls, the coastline of the sea and the edge of our town or settlement. Look around and everywhere you will see the architectural signals that define people past and present, their place in society, and the distribution of property. From the ferocious O’Flaherty’s, Good Lord deliver us! – the legendary inscription once read at one of Galway’s c1500 city gates to the belfry at St. Nicholas’ Collegiate Church which then led to coining the saying that they “couldn’t even give them the time of day” we have always used architecture to express our love of a good boundary.’ 


“Boundaries define us: they put us in our place. And Boundaries are fundamental to any discussion about Ireland’s future.

To what extent does the National Planning Framework define what our country could and should look like by 2040? Do the mental and physical boundaries of Dublin v the rural still apply? With Dublin’s sweeping economic effect felt across the country the festival talks will explore topics such as ‘Is Project 2040 fit for purpose post covid? Guest speakers include John Concannon, Vice President NUI Galway, John Moran, Chair LDA, Elaine Brick, Regional Director at AECOM and Tomás Ó Síocháin, CEO Western Development Commission.  


Chaired by Carol Tallon, CEO Property District this multidisciplinary panel will discuss and debate the long term strategic plan for Ireland, with a particular focus on Galway City, Galway County and the wider region. Our panel will also share insights and trends that emerged while navigating the pandemic restrictions and what the longer term impacts are likely to be on critical societal issues from housing and transport, through to culture and the creation of a truly livable city. 


The new coronavirus pandemic is upending life as we know it. Much remains uncertain, but analysts suggest the pandemic and the measures we are taking to save ourselves could permanently change the ways in which we live, work and play in the future. Envisioning our post-pandemic world together is key in ensuring we change for the better, not the worse. We are sharing the belief that the fields of architecture and planning have a high contribution in mitigating the next pandemic and increasing urban resilience. We need to ask how we do shape the public realm in a post-covid19 world and who is it for?


We have been moving towards more people-centred design for some time, notably in the form of green cities that seek to reduce emissions and promote sustainability. COVID-19 is likely to accelerate this trend. For AATE 2020 invited Architects/ Artists to respond to the context of the recent debate around public space via ‘the Boundaries Commission’ which aims to create a series of spatial or site specific interventions in the west of Ireland. 


The Air We Breathe – Sites of Symbiosis is a commissioned art project (temporary sculptural intervention on Grattan Beach, film screening, film workshops) by an artist duo; a place, of their own. that explores the idea that the air we breathe might suggest a public realm that resists regulation, control and defined boundaries that inscribe inequalities, but rather is one of Donna Haraway’s sympoiesis: of making-with, or co-production.


An online talk explores some of the ideas of this project with the artists from ; a place, of their own. Paula McCloskey and Sam Vardy in conversation with Dr. Clare Noone (Center for Climate & Air Pollution Studies NUI Galway) and Liz Coleman (NUI Galway School of Physics)


The commission comes as we are facing profound challenges to civic life. 


Inner city public realm is facing new pressures following the impact of Covid-19 — crowded city centres, narrow walkways, and with the reopening of pubs and restaurants contributing to health and safety concerns. Amy Lily Keogh, Director Design POP Cork and chef, restaurateur and author JP McMahon discuss redesigning our public spaces, and striking a balance between offering community and safety, we can begin to address fears and return to a new normality. 


For architects and citizens boundaries are more than a mundane fact of everyday life: they’re something to be challenged. Perhaps boundaries are made to be broken? 


Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara, co-founders of Grafton Architects,  are impressive role models, the first all-woman pair to be awarded the 2020 RIBA Royal Gold Medal for Architecture.


In an event hosted by Martina Murphy, Associate Head of School, Belfast School of Architecture, we meet some other leading and emerging women working in architecture and construction to discuss their experience of working in the field. 


With a panel to include Jane Larmour, Arigho Larmour Wheeler Architects, Aisling Rusk, Director, Studio idir,  and architect/curator Tara Kennedy we will take in insights about their experience of working in architecture, and also explore what challenges women working in the field face and what can be done to support and encourage others to make their mark on the industry. These talented women architects will reflect on their journeys into architecture and also other interests and experiences both personal and professional. 


What about personal boundaries at the other end of the scale? Whether that’s space standards or professional standards, architects need to act responsibly.’


Ireland’s architects pay no heed to national boundaries as they build around the world, and their global leadership is largely thanks to a fearless attitude towards design or technical boundaries. But at home does public procurement currently favors large companies which tend to be based in large population centers? 


Since our country exited the downturn there has been a substantial increase in the amount the state is spending on the construction and refurbishment of buildings. Somewhat counterintuitively this vastly increased workload is being awarded to an ever-decreasing number of architecture companies. This is because the state procurement system is unwieldy and complex, with an assessment system which is opaque and inconsistent.


We Can Build Better is an independent voluntary group of architects, engineers, and other construction professionals campaigning for positive changes to how we build in Ireland, focusing on the quality of the publicly funded buildings and places we are making today.

We are trying to highlight some issues with how our state procures its buildings. We think that the state is missing key opportunities to raise the quality of life for our citizens.

Our ongoing aim is to create debate and discussion about how we build publicly-funded buildings in Ireland, with a view to influencing procedural and legislative changes that lead to better places for us all to live, work and relax. 


Panelists include Louise Cotter, Carr Cotter Naessens Architects, Michael Pike, GKMP and Orla Hegarty, Assistant Professor at School of Architecture, Planning and Environmental Policy, UCD


“These are just some of the questions posed by our theme. Like previous AATE themes, we want participants to interpret and respond to it with imagination, flair and enthusiasm. We’re sure that AATE 2020 will be decidedly unbound as we explore our new theme of Boundaries.” adds Monahan.


“We are particularly excited to connect with the Rural Office for Architecture, who are based in rural Wales. Together we will explore the topic of boundaries in the context of progressive practice. To discuss the role of the profession in changing normative behavior for engagement strategies in order to remove boundaries to community participation. Hosted by Niall Maxwell, the event will take place on Friday evening 2nd October 2020. The conversation is designed to set the scene for a summer school or design/build project in Galway for AATE 2021. This event will be streamed live online with a chat facility open on Zoom in order to encourage a broad audience participation. It will be then available to view online as part of a series of conversations relating to the topic, which will be hosted during the autumn. 


AATE online will also feature a presentation of ‘ ‘Fiume Fantastika: Phenomena of the City’  a central exhibition of the Sweet Salt programme flagship, realized within the Rijeka 2020 – European Capital of Culture project. Based on recent research by DeltaLab – Centre for Urban Transition, Architecture and Urbanism at the University of Rijeka, the exhibition follows the last hundred and fifty years of Rijeka’s urban history.


With Rijeka, Croatia the sister ECOC with Galway in 2020 we want to develop learning and collaborations with our European partners and to build upon a shared experience between the two capitals of culture into the future’ says Frank.  Fiume Fantastika: Phenomena of the City is an exhibition, a new urban hub and an experimental-cognitive space which tells a story and explains the history of modern urban development of Rijeka and the region, following the influence of economical, political and social processes on the architecture of the city. 


The exhibition is set in 10 pavilions, each of which thematizes a certain Rijeka phenomenon: Borders, Port and Railway, Networks, Cinema: People are Coming!, City, Palace, Common Ground, Leisure, Monuments, and Fantastic Zones.


Other highlights include debate on plans for the new city district at Sandy Road. The LDA commissioned the RIAI in January 2020 to carry out a Design Review for the c.20-acre site near Galway city centre. The Design Review was undertaken by five RIAI Registered Architects – Dr. Alice Casey, TAKA Architects; Paul Mannion, Scott Tallon Walker Architects; Jonny McKenna , Metropolitan Workshop; Valerie Mulvin , McCullough Mulvin Architects and Michael Pike , GKMP Architects. Each Architect has put forward different proposals and visions that show a range of possible ideas for the site. The exercise is being performed with a view to unlocking the potential for the site to deliver up to 1,000 new homes, together with employment and leisure spaces as part of a new sustainable neighbourhood. The review is the first step in the regeneration of a key area of Galway city and the initiative represents a blueprint and catalyst for additional transformative projects. What happens will shape more than just the area within the ‘red line’ on the site plan. 


No conversation on boundaries would be complete without mention of the Irish Border. A discussion with historian & author Peter Leary and Architect Aisling Rusk will discuss their research on borders and their transgressions through spatial practice and illicit activities in this discursive session.  They will share a collection of spatial stories from the divided contexts of Northern Ireland and Israel / Palestine that, combined, evoke a practice of being ‘in-between’.


In Mayo the Ballinglen Collection housed in the recently opened Ballinglen Museum of Art will host the Without Boundaries Exhibition which is curated and presented as a joint venture between The Ballinglen Arts Foundation in association with Mayo County Council. The Ballinglen Collection holds an extensive repository which embodies the artists depictions of the nature of place during their Ballinglen Fellowships and returning residencies. The selected works explore aspects of the nature of architectural interiors, enclosures, settlements, ruins in the landscape and perceptions of natural and man-made boundaries. 


Other exhibitions include 6 at Walsh’s Shop, Ballinrobe is a selection of photographs taken by Hugh Doran when he visited Robe Villa forty years ago a projection onto Seapoint Ballroom and West End Walls of Emilija Jefremovas ‘Self Isolation Portraits’ taken in March earlier this year when the city was in Lockdown. The purpose of this project was to show how its not all doom and gloom – communities are made up of individuals who support each other in difficult times. 


Architecture at the Edge is supported by the Arts Council Ireland, Galway County Council, Mayo County Council, Galway City Council and the RIAI (The Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland).


Full programme details: https://www.architectureattheedge.com



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