Six architects to represent Ireland at Venice Biennale 2018 announced

Collective of Irish architects will explore how common spaces in market towns in Ireland can be restored and reinvigorated

Curators of Ireland’s national pavilion at the International Architecture Exhibition at Venice Biennale, 2018: Tara Kennedy, Jo Anne Butler, Laurence Lord, Miriam Delaney, Jeffrey Bolhuis, Orla Murphy

The curators of Ireland's national pavilion at the International Architecture Exhibition at next year's Venice Biennale, 2018, have been announced. Consisting of six architects, designers and educators working as one collective, entitled Free Market, the selection includes: Laurence Lord (AP+E), Orla Murphy (Custom), Jeffrey Bolhuis (AP+E), Jo Anne Butler (Culturstruction), Tara Kennedy (Culturstruction) and Miriam Delaney (DIT). The team is tasked with putting together an exhibition exploring the common spaces to be found in market towns across Ireland.

The Free Market collective will explore how, as rural towns are bypassed by the motorway network, and out of town shopping centres change people’s patterns of social engagement, there’s a huge opportunity for a revitalising vision to restore these once vibrant gathering spaces.

Ireland is already to the forefront of next year's event since Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara of Grafton Architects were invited to curate the entire International Architecture Exhibition – a first for an Irish architect's firm at the Architecture Biennale, which alternates with the Art Biennale in the Italian city, and has been dubbed the Olympics of the art and architecture worlds,A visit to the Biennale offers architects, and those simply fascinated by the spaces in which we work, rest and play, the chance to see new thinking, and pavilions that push the boundaries of what the buildings of the future may look like.

Announcing the Irish curators, Minister for Culture, Heather Humphreys noted the relevance of the Free Market exhibition, and that alongside the economic and social importance of these spaces, "this is also a theme with global resonance, and there is no doubt that the team's research will be of interest worldwide," adding that "2018 offers an unprecedented opportunity for contemporary Irish architecture to gain the international recognition it deserves."


The theme of Farrell and McNamara’s international exhibition has also been announced as Freespace, which the architects say will explore “a generosity of spirit and a sense of humanity at the core of architecture’s agenda”, by looking at architecture’s ability to provide free and additional spatial gifts to those who use it.

They also say it will look at architecture’s “ability to address the unspoken wishes of strangers”, and explore nature, materials, and suggest new ways of thinking; which for all those of us living in cramped, badly designed spaces might seem like a wonderful, though distant promise indeed.

Farrell and McNamara join an illustrious roster of previous international curators that includes Rem Koolhaas, David Chipperfield, Aaron Betsky and Ricky Burdett. The Venice Architecture Biennale runs from May 26th to November 25th 2018, and Ireland's exhibition in 2018, Free Market, will tour towns in Ireland in 2019 following its showing in Venice.,

Gemma Tipton

Gemma Tipton

Gemma Tipton contributes to The Irish Times on art, architecture and other aspects of culture