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Lives of Spaces, Biennale 2008

We were talking about the space between us all….

The Beatles 1967

Our installation is intended to focus attention on the social space of An Gaeláras, an Irish language cultural centre, then under construction in Derry and due for completion in 2009. The place to start the description of the building is from the centre, which is thought of as an outdoor room locked inside the building form. A glass roofed trapezoidal courtyard that is carved through the four floors of the building with stairs, bridges and platforms crossing and overlooking the central space. Light spills into the central court through an inverted rooflight and the different functions of each floorplate are made legible by the complex overlapping geometries of the structure.

We constructed a white abstracted model of the courtyard space with an inbuilt light and sound installation. The visitor approaches to observe the life of the space within through deliberately placed apertures framing events within the space. On engagement with the model a light and sound sequence is triggered, casting shadows across the interior which illustrate the passing of day into night accompanied by a projected soundscape.

S. Marco, 2893, 30124 Venezia VE, Italy
45°25'56.0"N 12°19'42.2"E
Start Year:
  • American Academy of Arts and Letters 2015 Awards: O’Donnell + Tuomey
    Dublin, 29 Oct  – 9 Nov 2015
  • The Lives of Spaces
    Venice, Italy

The exhibition armature contains a 1:15 scale model of the internal space of the courtyard. Cuts made through the external crust provide both direct and peripheral views into and across the central volume. An integrated light and sound installation animates the sensory experience of the physical model. Various two-directional viewing apertures reveal moving paths of light and shadow to simulate the diurnal cycle of daylight-into-darkness in the space.

Synchronised with the track of light is an acoustic composition incorporating sounds of human activity, speech and song in the Irish language across the course of a day in the life of the building. Through this miniature multi-media combination of cardboard modelmaking and microprocessor-controlled psycho-acoustic experience, we hoped to represent some sense of the anticipated real life of the space of the uncompleted construction project.

The functional activities of the building are clustered around an internal courtyard that provides a heart to the body of the building at the confluence of its circulatory systems. To this extent the building can best be understood from the sense of outsideness that can be experienced from within. The place to start the description of the building is from the centre, which is thought of as an outdoor room locked inside the building form. The building is turned inwards on itself and the interdependency of interior and courtyard space remains hidden from external view. Daylight is provided through space carved out from within the form.

Installation: Within You Without You
Architectural modelmakers: O’Donnell + Tuomey
Armature modelmakers: City Models
Lighting: Nicholas Ward
Sound: Jürgen Simpson


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