International Architecture Biennale Venice 2004

In response to the theme of the Venice Biennale 2004, “Metamorph”, Ireland’s Pavilion was itself transformative of an ongoing project for the phased redevelopment of the former Industrial School and its eventual incorporation within a community-generated campus at Letterfrack: the Transformation of an Institution.

The installation in the Arsenale was intended to tell the story of the past, present and projected future of the site. The exhibition focused in on the architecture of the new Furniture College and provided an overview of the history, culture and landscape of Connemara West.

The new buildings at Letterfrack represent a rethinking of the relationship of the former penal institution with its place. Ireland’s Pavilion recasts elements of the architectural project to suggest characteristics of confinement and release, closed institutions and frameworks for change. Under the roof trusses of the abandoned Artiglierie munitions factory, separate structures confront one another in an analogous composition. Principles of form and construction, abstracted from the built reality of a contemporary college, evoke memories of chapels and shrines, lobster pots and the skeletal carcasses of upturned boats.