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Lewis Glucksman Gallery, UCC

2007 Gandon Editions

When the Lewis Glucksman Gallery was first mooted, and the architects named, I thought there was a fair chance we should see something special. O’Donnell and Tuomey bring a marked consciousness of space and context to their buildings, so I felt no qualms about their being handed this riverside site in the lower grounds of the university (…) I knew the architects would be sensitive to the palpable, very definite spirit of the place.

I first saw the emerging Glucksman from the air, flying back to Dublin at twilight after a day of meetings. It was a purely fortuitous moment: the plane had taken off, untypically, to the west, was following a great curve around the edge of the city, and suddenly, as we banked to follow the south channel of the Lee, to track the river east, I glanced up from my book and saw beneath me, soaring through the trees, the shape of the new building. It wasn’t yet clad, just a skeleton in an exo-skeleton of scaffolding, and I only saw it for a few seconds, but I felt a jolt, a kind of low-level shock: something to do with the way the building’s weight sat there between and among the trees, something about the way the river hooked it on one side, the way the main avenue running down from the mass of buildings on the hill pinned the weight of it to the ground even as the trees lifted it. Think of a moment when a door swings open, you hear a fragment of music, the door swings shut again but the musical phrase lingers: you want to hear more of it, you know it is going to take root in your life. A moment like that.
– from Theo Dorgan, It stands on air and scholarship, it sings

Supported on a 12-metre span cantilevered concrete platform with upstand beams that afford a smooth soffit beneath this pin-wheeling pavilion, ingeniously clad in Angelin de Campagna hardwood, is daringly suspended amid a cluster of mature trees that the architects were at pains to maintain from the outset. Everything about this building derives from the site in uncanny ways, engendering references that ricochet off objects near and far, beyond the confines of one’s immediate vision.

What is intriguing about this contrived and insistent oscillation is the different attitudes that it induces towards time. For where culture insists on the temporal immediacy of the isolated artwork, momentarily juxtaposed at random within the confines of a warped and fragmented white cube, nature, as perceived intermittently beyond the confines of the cube, presents itself as a rooted panorama that is inseparable from an amalgam of times, climes, seasons and distances, that are, at once, both still and in a constant state of transition. In sum this space constantly compels one to shift and adjust one’s attention, ever divided between the stability of culture and the volatility of nature – that is to say, between the nearness of the object in the here and now and the distant prospect of nature and history that makes itself manifest through the loosely focused framing of one time-lined, runic vista after another.

– from Kenneth Frampton, The Elysian Stride

(…) what we would want in any work of architecture is that the building contains exactly what it is intended to contain, and responds exactly to the use for which it is intended, but also includes the wider world in it. You never forget that you are in the world no matter where you are, and that should be true of the smallest thing and the biggest thing. That’s what I mean about the windows providing the space for you to let your focal distance stretch. The analogy in my head is reading a book on a train. You have three hours on a train and you can totally immerse yourself in the book, and every now and then you look up and you think, there goes the Curragh and was that Portlaoise, and then you’re back in the book. It’s not the same as reading a book in an otherwise darkened room with just the lamp on. There’s something about immersion and distraction, and I think the best buildings elegantly and fully answer the practical requirements, but all the time allow us to be reminded that there’s a large and full world, and at every moment we are in it.

– John Tuomey

– from Rachel Andrews, A Conversation with the Architects

Related Projects: UCC Glucksman Gallery

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