• Tuesday , 19 November 2019



Open by Appointment: 1 June to 8 June 2018, 11am – 5pm

Venue: Nano Nagle Place, Douglas Street, Cork

[Please contact Ms Gerry McCarthy on 021-4298401 to arrange your visit.]

MArch 2017-2018 : VENICE 

Venice has “always existed as you see it today, more or less”, it has been like some kind of fish “…sailing since the dawn of time; it’s put in at every port, it’s rubbed up against every shore, quay and landing-stage:         Middle Eastern pearls, transparent Phoenician sand, Greek seashells, Byzantine seaweed all accreted on its scales”. Tiziano Scarpa (2012), Venice is a Fish.

This year the MArch Course  approached the city of Venice from the theme of City of Next Mythologies.  Overall, it is an important year for Irish Architecture and Venice more generally – seeing that Grafton Architects are the current Curators of Freespace at the Venice Architecture Biennale 2018, and a number of our colleagues from CCAE have formed the National Team Free Market that has successfully represented Ireland.

Part of our objective this year was to begin to understand Venice as a city that is at once “anti-modern” – that “lies in its past” as Daniel Libeskind puts it – whilst at the same time, it is a city that has been remade and re-constructed through different types of near mythological and fictional readings. It is also a place where myths are continually made or made about – from Marco Polo’s account of Venice and Europe to Kublai Khan, to Venice becoming a sort of mythical surrogate parent to John Ruskin (and he becoming a foster child of the city), to Peter Eisenman’s mythologizing of Le Corbusier’s Venice Hospital Project, to John Hejduk’s allegorical Venice Trilogy, and to Hans Hollein’s claim at the 1996 Biennale (Sensori del Futuro) that architects are themselves mythical predictors and “seismographs” to creating near futures – which would then see the architect as a type of instigator of near, future, or next mythologies. And, it is these abilities – to sense, interpret, convincingly understand, and radically engage a place and a historical time – that has preoccupied us during the year as we began to (re)imagine Venice through our own imagined future city. 

It is perhaps not coincidental at this time and place in history – that it arises for architecture to think and act in this way. After all, Venice is in itself a highly unstable environment. The fact that is in “built on soft soils, with foundations supported by wood piles, Venice is repeatedly battered by the elements, flooded by periodic acqua alta (high waters) and desiccated by the sun” (Armstrong, 2013) –  means that the very image of the city as we know it is constantly under threat. The prospect then is that Venice- as John Ruskin puts it –  might some time soon quietly slip away into the Lagoon “like a lump of sugar in hot tea”. And so it seems then, that there might be no better place to begin to think about an architecture that re-imagines the place possibly as a ghostly representation of itself, or alternatively, as a future type of city that has found new ways to re-imagine itself and create a future mythology out of the underlying  material conditions that are at once – and quite literally- underpinning and undermining it.

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