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Category: Art

Architecture April 2017

Tread Softly

Wolfe Tone Park is situated in the middle of Dublin on the grounds of the Church of St. Mary’s alongside the old Jervis Street Hospital.  Though many pass by and over the space between the de-consecrated Church and an old industrial building few think about what lies beneath.    The abstracted diagonal paving with its sparse planting and scattered remnants of headstones was once and remains a graveyard.

NJBA A+U –  Wolfe Tone Square

An international design competition was held in 1998 to reconfigure the enclosed park of stone walls, iron railings, paths and grassed over graves.  Even then the original headstones had been aligned along the boundaries facing into the space inside.  The original stone walls and railings identified the sacred boundary and provided minimal environmental protection from the wind and traffic noise.

NJBA A+U – Monument to Wolfe Tone

The solutions that found favour with the jury converted the bounded space to an unbounded non space, leaking to the street and the surrounding spaces.  Originally the intention was to bring St. Mary’s into the composition but that remains isolated.

Critically however the issue of the dead remained silent in many of the submissions as the graveyard is purported to hold cholera victims with many laid close to the surface.  Instead of revealing the interred it was considered more sensible to leave them where thy lay and move the remaining stones to the shaded end of the new space, leaving some to be presented along the western flank to wear away underfoot.

Our approach to the Wolfe Tone Square Competition was diametrically opposed to the washing away of this memory.   Instead we sought to honour the dead, and the living.  With the additional request to honour Wolfe Tone we split the honorific aspects of our interpreted programme in two contrasting courts connected with spaces for the living visitor.

NJBA A+U – Memorial to the interred

The overall plan for the Square would also recognise the significant environmental problems that currently exist.  The prevailing winds from the South West and West transverse the nearby buildings before hitting the Jervis Street hospital Building and directed downwards make for an uncomfortable location at best.  Our proposal sought to enhance the previous barrier’s tendency to shelter the space by including a system of screening with Birch Trees in raised platforms to break up the laminar flow of the moving air as well as a mask to the traffic noise on either street.  Coupled with an integrated seating and water system the visitor would be enclosed ion a place of calm reflection necessary in today’s world.  The square would also be capable of being closed at certain times to ensure that the place was preserved as a place of respect rather than a place of entertainment, a temptation that is all too often taken up in urban design schemes.

NJBA A+U – Wolfe Tone Square

As the council authorities seek to address the limitations of the current arrangement there is a plan to convert it back to some sort of grassed surface.  As people, re-inhabit the space, as they sit on the grass, as they lounge on those rare days of summer and lie back on the grass they will not know of those that lie barely a few feet away beneath the ground.

Tread softly.

 

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Music October 2016

Oblique Projection: A new Logo and a new outlook; towards the future.

After a less than satisfactory experience with the original logotype that introduced Oblique Projection a new logo was commissioned from Synthetic Reality (designers).

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The original logotype linked the name with the concept did not seem to have that iconic character that could be distinguished from the background noise.  When the “Cycles” (OPus 2.0) album ( https://obliqueprojection.bandcamp.com/)was released earlier this year the logotype was suspended.

Cycles by Oblique Projection

Cycles by Oblique Projection

 

The designers believed that reducing the band name to an acronym logo would make it easier to identify and explain a little more about the band and its music.  Other bands are almost better known by their acronyms OMD, PIL, ELO, etc.  Oblique Projection reduces to OP which can be seen in the catalog numbers for each album (MEC OPus 1.0, Cycles OPus 2.0), also a play on the word opus.  “OP” could be seen as short for Optic related topics.

op-logosoundcloud_2016

 

So “the eyes have it”.  Synthetic Reality launched the new Oblique Projection logo on OP’s facebook page, ( https://www.facebook.com/ObliqueProjection/) with a roll out on other social and web sites in the coming weeks.  The eye logo unites the OP acronym to the idea of image and representation, a new view of the world and the music.

op_tshirt_cycles  op_tshirt_citylights

As part of the roll out is an investigation into merchandise and apparel (T-shirts) which were test launched on the Facebook page above; Cycles T-Shirt & City Lights T-Shirt. Black and White versions are also shown on their facebook page.

 

For a sample of Oblique Projection‘s output, check out their soundcloud page,including a new tester track “There”:

 

Architecture September 2015

World War 1 Memorial Washington DC

583_Scene1

“Try Again, Fail Again, Fail better.” Samuel Beckett

 

This was the submission narrative submitted along with the competition entry.

The scheme strips back Pershing Park to the bone, a clearing among the trees.  The berms and undergrowth are cut back to provide maximum visibility and access from all sides.  At the centre is a new fractured “ground” consisting of granite blocks with tomb like proportions at different elevations.  On this “ground” are 12 marble statues of infantry marching towards the “front” where tall oxidised steel sculpted “trees” represent the loss of nature and destruction.  At the end of this vista is the old “court” which is to be re-purposed as a reconciliations space.

 

And when peace comes to Flanders,

Because it comes too late,

He’ll still lie the, and listen

To the Otterburn in spate –

Wilfred Gibson – Otterburn

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General Pershing’s statue has been relocated opposite its current position to face the “front” alongside his flanking men.  While Pershing’s statue is 2 x life size the soldiers are 1.5 x life size.  Completing the composition is the chronology of the war in bronze.  Opposite the timeline is a series of illuminated beacons that display the poetry of the WWI – a reminder of the realities of war.  The space around the new fractured “ground” is to be made level and accessible to all.  It is expected that seating would be provided at the periphery looking inward to the statues.  Lighting is to be provided in the beacons, along the edges and in the joints between the granite of the new “ground” platform, in the vertical markers of the timeline and around the court and the Pershing statue

Dark clouds are smouldering into red

      While down the craters morning burns.

The dying soldier shifts his head

      To watch the glory that returns;

He lifts his fingers toward the skies

      Where holy brightness breaks in flame;

Radiance reflected in his eyes,

      And on his lips a whispered name.

Siegfried Sassoon – How to Die

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The main design consisted of

  1. Poetic Beacons – Poetry of the First World War
  2. The fractured ground – a staggered plate of granite to represent both the destruction of the ground, the mechanisation of war (tomb like proportions)
  3. The Marble Statues of the Soldiers at the front (the sleepwalkers)
  4. The “trees” – oxidised steel poles that represent the destruction of nature, echoing iconic images from the Somme and Ypres.
  5. General Pershing’s statue relocated to face the “front” towards the East separated from his men (flanking) in attack towards the end (the old court)
  6. The chronology of major events of the war cast in bronze with vertical markers
  7. The Court of resolution- armistice, the old memorial refurbished and re-purposed

 

Who died on the wires, and hung there, one of two –

Who for his hours of life had chattered through

Infinite lovely chatter of Bucks accent,

Yet face unbroken wires; stepped over, and went,

A noble fool, faithful to his stripes – and ended.

Ivor Gurney – The Silent One

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Having read the brief in some detail and thinking on the epoch changing nature of the war the design was a sparse and poetic reflection on mechanisation, death, pain and memory.  A sparse entry by the standards of the others it was invisible among the bombastic statements of many and it had no gimmicks.  It provided space for reflection and brought to the fore the war poetry that has not been a major feature of other memorials.

What in our lives is burnt

In the fire of this?

The heart’s dear granary?

How much we shall miss?

 

Three lives hath one life –

Iron, honey, gold.

The gold, the honey gone –

Left is the hard and cold.

 

Iron are the loves

Molten right through our youth.

A burnt space through ripe fields,

A fair mouth’s broken tooth.

Isaac Rosenberg – August 1914

583_Scene6

The opportunity to engage in open competition is of benefit to the work in the practice.  The realisation that it will not progress further is of course a disappointment.  Reflecting on this failure I am strengthened by Beckett’s mantra; “try again, fail again, fail better”.

njb  – NJBA A+U

Architecture August 2015

In-dependency

582_Poolbeg_Opt1a

The towers at Poolbeg may no longer be in use and though the ESB has shelved plans for their demolition there remains a gap that requires resolution.  Other proposals, from the fanciful to the practical have been made to which we are adding the obvious.  As both a symbol of a new era in abundant energy from non traditional resources (those other than the burning of coal, gas, oil or nuclear fuels) the ESB could re-purpose the towers to wind power.

582_Poolbeg_Opt2a

While the elements require some strengthening (internal steel lattice) they could be the masts to two elegant windmills.  This would be a potent symbol for an energy independent future right at the gateway to Dublin and Ireland.  Moreover this would be a wonderful opportunity to provide a test bed for newer blade technologies.  Glinting in the sun and riding high on the winds they would be a welcome addition to the  windsurfers on Bull Island at the heart of the designated UNESCO Biosphere.

582_Poolbeg_Opt3a

NJBA A+U

previously posted on linkedin

Architecture March 2015

 Innisfree Architectural Competition Entry by NJBA A+U

View of Portal

View of Portal

THE LAKE ISLE OF INNISFREE William Butler Yeats, 1892

 

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,

And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made; 

Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honeybee, 

And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow, 

Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings; 

There midnight’s all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow, 

And evening full of the linnet’s wings.

I will arise and go now, for always night and day 

I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore; 

While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey, 

I hear it in the deep heart’s core.

Portal (from above)

Portal (from above)

Somewhere between the city and Innisfree the poem exists as a portal to that other life, a life lived simply, a life experienced in innocence at one with the earth, alone. It suggests that the poet dreams of a self sufficient existence, sustained by beans and honey.  This project cannot wholly answer all of this.  In all conscience we cannot truly build a small cabin of clay and wattles.  Instead a portal has been created.  Like the valley temples along the Nile we have prepared a structure to accept the arriving visitor.  As a portal it receives the visitor preparing for their landing as well as being the point from which the visitor leaves.

Structure of Portal

Structure of Portal

We have calculated that this is the most minimal point of interference where you can hear “lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore”.  The structure is a simple timber frame on steel piles.  The roof consists of a suspension system using steel wire and sail cloth (for both weathering and structure).  Beneath this translucent roof an inner cloak of raw linen is draped.  This later element is inspired by the reference to an “evening full of the linnet’s wings”.  The Linnet is so named because of its link to the eating of flax seeds.  The shape of the portal roof is wing like.  Underneath the translucent roof are two boardwalks that take the visitor on and off the island to the waiting boat.  Floating lightly above the waves the whole structure can be easily removed leaving the island untouched. (from original competition report)

Arriving at Innisfree

Arriving at Innisfree

This approach is antithetical to the creation for a folly like architecture for the purposes of the competition.  Instead it sough to get out of the way, providing a portal, a gateway though which the visitor passes form the outside world to that sacred world of the mind on the island to which the poet seeks refuge.

 

Architecture April 2014

HØYBLOKKA REVISITED

This is NJBA A+U’s contribution to the ‘dugnad’, (a voluntary input for the purposes of debate) organised by Markus Richter of the 0047 Gallery in Oslo.  Tasked with examining the complex, its buildings and spaces the proposal sought to invoke a memory of why the place has been abandoned.

Caspar_David_Friedrich_002_sm

It is hard to look at Høyblokka without thinking of Caspar David Friedrich’s “The Abbey in the Oakwood”.  What had been a vibrant monastery had firstly been dissolved then fell into ruin before been recycled for defensive positions.  In the painting the ruin is shrouded in darkness as mourners arrive to a funeral.  The trees like the ruin are also pruned, their branches amputated.  The melancholy of the painting is a suitable echo of the sad events in Oslo and Utoya.

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The blackened oaks are mirrored in the tall trees standing in front of Høyblokka.  It seems appropriate that two hundred years separate the creation of the painting from the events in Norway.

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The enduring image of the events in Utoya was the white sheets that covered the victims of the atrocity.  The organic distribution of the sheets along the waterfront produced and enduring almost artistic image of innocence and loss.

H_YBLOKKA 16_A_sm

While deliberations will take time to define the future of Høyblokka this is a proposal to honour the fallen to compliment the proposed memorial on Utoya to loss.  71 internally illuminated crumpled sheets are placed on 71 biers raising them above the pedestrian level.  As frames they take up variations in the landscape creating a cloud like cover to the remaining urban space of the Høyblokka complex.

H_YBLOKKA 15_A_sm

 

0047 will present a wide range of entries in the exhibition Høy­blokka revisited, which opens on March, 27th; a selection of the entries will subsequently be published in Arkitektur N.  The debate should raise important questions about the nature of urban ruins.

 

Architecture March 2014

Fulcrum – ARDS Peninsula Installation

The possibility of constructing architecture from standardized parts is a long held dream of the modern movement.  With a nostalgic view of the future some pioneers believed that the future could be transparent, functional, streamlined and efficient if it followed the dream of Henry Ford’s production line.  “More Ford than Marx”, went the catchphrase.   However industrialised processes in Architecture are neither new nor exclusively modern.  In ancient Rome the standardization of Brick production facilitated the building of an empire as did their standardisation of armour, currency and most especially roads.

NJBA_553_Design_Section

 

In an age of austerity industrialsed and standardised elements are often drawn upon to facilitate works that might not otherwise be affordable.  This is NJBA A+U’s entry for the Ards Peninsula competition which draws upon the limitations of material to surpass the usual.   

NJBA_553_Exploded_1

The proposal sees a tower constructed of standard plywood sheeting (with minimal cuts) fixed to a timber frame and using hinges to manufacture a triangular box.  Stacked in a pattern of twos these “boxes” would form a 5 storey tower accessed by a  stair ladder.  Designed to be placed anywhere in the park area Fulcrum would enable the viewer to engage with the trees or the coastline.  

SONY DSC

 

With rudimentary skills this tower can be erected on a relatively small footprint with its own concrete foundation.  The size of the panel systems easily provides the necessary protective environment safe.  And should the structure be considered meaningful through use the elements would provide the formwork for a more permanent concrete tower on the same platform.  

Architecture is too often seen without the myriad temporary structures that went into its construction.  Here the scaffold has become permanent, the formwork without the from, the standard identifying with the unique.

Music

Filmed on location of Cavan Fleadh 2012. 

Storm Clouds over Mestre is a recent work by Oblique Projection.    The backdrop is Cavan Cathedral where an interpretation of Stravinsky’s “The Rite of Spring” was created by Director of Ériu Dance Company in association with Fidget Feet Aerial Dance Company it opened the Fleadh in 2012. 

Work on the sleeve notes for their first album; MEC (mechanical, electrical, chemical) is progressing to be released in Version 12.4.1 – Waterpower. As a visual companion to the album it will provide clues to the music.

Writing

A selection of published material other than by 12 Publishers is now available on our website.  These mainly feature Architecture and Urban Design.  There are interviews with Architects such as Winy Maas, Glenn Murcutt, FOA, Juhani Pallasmaa, Craig Dykers, David Chipperfield as well as the Artist/Sculptor Michael Warren, see; http://www.12publishers.com/Writing.htm  The material is available as free pdf downloads under creative commons licensing.

Art

The first edition of Version was published in December 2012. Version 12.2.1 “the impossible memorial”, documents the memorial to victims of abuse (ireland) by NJBA A+U. THis is available via Blurb as a paperback, hardback or e-book. A preview of the publication is available on our site at; http://www.12publishers.com/12Publishers.htm

Version_12.2.1_BDustCover