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Architecture Applied to the Space that we Inhabit; the Grafton Architects take on Vienna’s 2018 Biennial

Written by Cindy Marie Jenkins on Friday, March 16th, 2018 at 2:30pm.

What does it take to be chosen to design the Venice Biennial? If this year’s headliners are any indication, it's a combination of philosophy, vision and deep understanding of how the structures around us inform and act upon our lives.

In the 2012 Bienniel, Shelley McNamara and Yvonne Farrell of the Irish firm Grafton Architects explored “Geography as a new Landscape,” building models from the work of the great Brazilian architect Paulo Mendes da Rocha. Limestone and paper maché models, landscapes, and previews of new works won them the Silver Lion for Most Promising Firm that year.

For the 2018 Venice Biennial, entitled "Close Encounter, meetings with remarkable projects," the works will be presented are based in historical buildings, investigating how they relate to the modern world. Thirteen artists will also take part in "The Practice of Teaching," a communal participatory teaching experience. But who are these renowned minds behind such an undertaking? Here are some fast facts about Shelley McNamara and Yvonne Farrell of Grafton Architects in Dublin.

  • The specialty and genius of McNamara and Farrell designs lie in their ability to work the designs and purposes of each structure into the surrounding landscape, as in The Long House. That's so small feat in their home of Ireland, where slopes are the norm.

  • They built the Universita Luigi Bocconi School of Economics in Milan as a place to exchange ideas while including research offices for 1,000 professors and enough space to welcome 1,500 to a conference.

  • The Solstice Arts Centre in Ireland follows the sloping ground to form an “interior presence” that stands out as a cultural centre within the existing neighborhood.

  • They explored architecture as abstracted landscape while building The Stone Pavilion in Verona, Italy. Using a varied series of influences, their goal was to have the exhibition feel like a piece of geology.

  • Light and air and more slopes were all integrated into the design of the Loreto Community School, finding a way to merge the curvy land into a functional campus, complete with a sports hall, two-story classroom block, one story technology wing and an assembly and dining area tying it all together.

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Photo credit: Grafton Architects



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