Architecture at the Edge festival is back — and looking at alternative futures

BY Declan Varley

The thematic for this year’s iteration of the Architecture at the Edge festival which opens this week, will be related to ‘Alternative Futures’. AATE will invite audiences to reflect on propositions and opportunities for change and intervention in a world of uncertainty.

AATE Festival Director, Frank Monahan said that the pandemic demanded that we become more adaptable, more flexible, to reflect on and to examine our priorities, how we do things.

“The new reality we are moving into presents fresh challenges and a chance to re-evaluate how we live and take more collective responsibility for our shared future.

“With this in mind AATE are planning to host a number of talks, tours, workshops, and exhibitions related to the theme. Like previous AATE themes, we want participants to interpret and respond to it with imagination, flair and enthusiasm,” said Mr Monahan.

The Festival takes place within the context of Galway City Council’s Development Plan (2023-2029 ), draft-stage which is currently under review by councillors, having undertaken initial public consultation/engagement processes.

“In parallel to this AATE have partnered with Galway Chamber to launch the next phase of the consultation process for ‘Vision 2050’ which takes place at the Hardiman Hotel on Monday October 11. A large panoramic visualisation has been created envisioning ‘Galway 2050’ by architect Brett Mahon for the purposes of inviting and stimulating public discussion.

Workshops for engaging meaningfully with this and the Draft Galway City Development Plan 2023 -2029 will take place at Galway Chamber office on weekend 16th October 16. The exhibition of ‘Galway 2050’ will be open for public viewing in the Galway Chamber offices for six weeks following the launch.

Opening doors

For the past four years, Architecture at the Edge has celebrated Galway’s and the West of Ireland’s built environment by opening the doors to the architecture of Galway city and environs. Last year’s offering adapted in response to the pandemic, to deliver an expanded online programme with events streamed live online over the course of the festival with a chat facility open on Zoom to encourage a broad audience participation.

Given the broad success of this format in 2020, with discussions still available to view online via the AATE YouTube Channel, it will do so again as part of a series talks relating to this year’s theme.

Orla Murphy, UCD, will moderate a discussion, Wednesday 13th October, that will explore how we might employ more creative and enabling policies in relation to our response to the Climate Environment Crisis in context to the upcoming UN Climate Change Conference (COP26 ). Speakers will include Kevin Loftus, Architect / Urbanist, and Co-founder Ballina Ireland’s Greenest Town initiative, Robert Bourke of Act Now Collective and Léan Doody, Associate Director and Cities & Planning Leader for Europe at Arup.

On Thursday October 14 Andrew Clancy, Clancy Moore Architects and Professor of Architecture at Kingston University will lead a panel of Grainne Hassett, Head of School, SAUL School of Architecture University of Limerick amongst others which will examine architecture in education at third level and the ideas of change and how things are evolving in various institutions. Elsewhere,. ‘Women at the Edge’ in partnership with women in architecture_NI will also make a welcome return following on from its successful inclusion last year.

Events taking place in the former Tribune Printworks, on Market St. will include the showcase exhibition for ‘Design Lab’, AATE’s creative workshops for young people aged 14-16. In partnership with award-winning grassroots architecture education organization, Matt +Fiona, AATE is working to enable young people to directly shape their world - to create future spaces, places, and inhabitations where they live, work and play.

The journey in 2021 enabled 50 TY students to develop their ideas about the built environment into a collective brief and design ideas for a more young-person friendly proposal for an agreed project centered in the city of Galway. Participating schools for the 2020/21term were Coláiste na Coiribe, Dominican College, Taylors Hill and Coláiste Bhaile Chláir. Three collective concept structures based on their own proposals for ‘a space for belonging’ were produced. These installations will be on display, thereby celebrating and sharing the young people’s ideas, alongside live creative workshops with the AATE Design Lab Ambassadors.

City of Hopes

Also to be seen at the Printworks Gallery space will be the ‘Galway - City of Hopes’ exhibition. Using Galway as their testing ground, the Dublin School of Architecture, TU Dublin final year B.Arch students this year responded through architectural design to offer hopeful visions of what a city might be. AATE Director, Frank Monahan says of the exhibition’ what you will see here is evidence of a concern for a responsible yet innovative and celebratory practice of architecture. Some students worked with existing buildings, imagining exciting new lives for them.

“Others examined where and how Galwegians might most sustainably live and work in the future. These are proposals to re-invigorate the city centre that draw on its citizens’ vitality. They are studies that repair the city’s edge and deal with its expansion in sensitive or provocative ways. There is an overarching concern for the city’s environment, and how this might be sustained … a lot to be learned from as we move further into a critical decade’.

For those of you whom might prefer to get out and about to explore the city and county other live events are making a return for AATE this autumn. A Road Trip with a Difference - 6000 Years of Irish Art and Architecture in the company of artist Joe Boske & archaeologist Michael Gibbons, takes place on Friday 15 October. A guided Tour on Saturday 16 October led by Brendan ‘Speedie’ Smith, founder Galway National Park City follows an online presentation on the initiative on the previous day. Elsewhere in the county, there are guided tours at Monivea Mausoleum, the resting place of Robert ffrench, a guided Tour at Kylemore Abbey led by Michael Horan, Axo Architects, and another at St. Brendan’s Cathedral, Loughrea. Prebook for this and other events via Eventbrite

The Jackie Clarke Collection, Ballina, Co. mayo will see the re-installation of the House of Memory designed by architect David Kelly, which invites the public to share their personal experience during the pandemic. The House of Memory was recently featured as part of the Galway International Arts Festival. The project part funded by the Irish Hospice Foundation (IHF ) which in partnership with the Creative Ireland programme aims to inspire and support creative responses to the themes of dying, death, and bereavement during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A new sculptural installation at Seapoint, Salthill, created by art and architecture practice ‘a place of their own’, in collaboration with Mace Head Atmospheric Centre (in Carna, Connemara ) and physicist Dr Liz Coleman NUI Galway, suggests that “the air we breathe” is a shared resource that offers an alternative way to think about the public realm. The sculpture takes the form of a LED neon sign that simply reads ‘Aer Anála’. With it, will be installed a small air quality sensor (provided by Mace Head Atmospheric Centre ). A public performance walk will take place on Saturday 9th at 2pm which will end at Galway City Museum with an informal discussion and talk about these ideas.

One of the highlights of the festival this year will be the AATE collaboration with Music for Galway. ‘Mackintosh + Space and Light’ a marriage of Film, Architecture and Music takes place October 10 at 8:00 pm, in Town Hall Theatre. Conducted by Rory Boyle, Music Ireland, this special event is based on a unique combination of art forms: cinema, music, and architecture: the screening of Murray Grigor’s documentaries Mackintosh and Space and Light will take place with the live performance of the original musical scores by acclaimed Scottish composer Frank Spedding.

Fans of Murray’s films will be delighted that a trio of them will be showing at Pálás Cinema, during the first weekend of the festival. Opening events on Friday 08 October 2021 will be a screening of ‘Infinite Space: The Architecture of John Lautner’, followed by In Search of Clarity: Gwathmey Siegel’ & ‘Carlo Scarpa’ on Saturday afternoon with both films introduced and followed by a Q&A discussion with the director Murray Grigor.

Something to look forward to, in an event scheduled for early November, will see Hugh Wallace, Architect and television presenter Home of the Year, The Great House Revival, in conversation with award-winning artist and writer, Adrian Duncan based in Ireland and Berlin, on the topic of ‘Bungalow Bliss’. November will also see Architect Valerie Mulvin, for a book signing of her recently launched title ‘Approximate Formality ; Morphology of Irish Towns’ at Charlie Byrnes Bookshop.

So much happening over the course of what’s sure to be a great programme of events so keep up to date @ArchAtTheEdge on Instagram and other social channels for the latest!

Architecture at the Edge is proud to be supported by the Arts Council among our other loyal public and private supporters.


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