Monday 10 November 2008

Standard of Irish architecture

Madam, - Eoin Dillon's colourful command of metaphor (November 5th) may inadvertently imply that a Lithuanian crematorium could not a thing of beauty be! However, his contribution to a debate about the standard of Irish architecture is to be welcomed, just as the participation of tens of thousands of citizens in the recent "open days" organised by the Irish Architectural Foundation was a welcome demonstration of the huge, repressed hunger that exists for engagement with architecture and standards of architecture.

My letter of November 3rd was a call for a pause for celebration for Grafton Architects, who incidentally designed some very fine buildings here. Any suggestion that my offering was an apologia for mediocrity or poor standards is misplaced.

The quality of any individual building is a direct function of the quality of the brief - which in turn is an expression of ambition, societal values and priorities. I would cite the recent generation of county and city halls, whether in Fingal, Limerick, Cork, Kildare or Tullamore, as an expression of the synthesis of educated patronage and architectural talent. They also demonstrate that we can produce excellent buildings which attract serious international interest.

We are a young country, and have paid a price for an errant and misguided adolescence - particularly in recent years. There was never a more urgent need for discourse, vision and leadership. Part of the remit of the RIAI is to promote this discourse and specifically to enhance the quality of architecture and the built environment.

The RIAI will shortly announce details of "2009: A Year of Architecture", which will aspire to bring this discourse into a public forum nationally.

I hope that Eoin Dillon and many others will engage. Metaphors can also inspire a future. - Yours, etc,

SEÁN Ó LAOIRE, President, Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland,Merrion Square, Dublin 2.

The Irish Times

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