Raymund Ryan is Curator of the Heinz Architectural Center at Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Museum of Art. Exhibitions for Pittsburgh include Frank Lloyd Wright: Renewing the Legacy (2005), Gritty Brits: New London Architecture (2007), Laboratory of Architecture/Fernando Romero (2009) and White Cube, Green Maze: New Art Landscapes (2012). A graduate in architecture from University College Dublin and Yale, Ryan was first Irish Commissioner for the Venice Architecture Biennale (2000; 2002). He is the co-author of Building Tate Modern (2000), author of Cool Construction (2001), and a frequent contributor to The Architectural Review (London), The Plan (Bologna), and Architecture Ireland (Dublin).
Raymund, along with Nathalie Weadick, is a curator of New Horizon_architecture of Ireland at this year’s London Festival of Architecture. Raymund and Nathalie selected ten Irish architects to participate in what will be a travelling exhibition that moves between London, Chicago and Hong Kong/Shenzhen. The main criteria for choosing the architects who feature in New Horizon were that they were young, Irish and had already displayed strong work in their career, as evidenced by awards or award nominations. The real goal of the exhibition is to give young Irish architects, the new generation that are the successors to the ‘Temple Bar’ generation of the ‘90s, an international platform to showcase their work and ideas.
“If you look at the older generation of architects, those born in the 50s and 60s, the ‘Temple Bar’ generation, they’ve all been fairly well represented internationally. And we wanted to do something for the younger generation. I’m based in Pittsburgh but come back and forth to Ireland quite a bit and there were two events that I was really struck by here when returning. One was an exhibition of objects in the RHA that included work by TAKA, Clancy Moore and Steve Larkin, and I was impressed that they had made this decision to show their work collectively. There’s something very attractive about architects being willing to show their work together. And then the other event was the Granby Park pop-up, which was a temporary community park on the north side of the city. I loved the whole spirit of that project. It gave a sense of some really good vibes from the younger generation.”
Raymund sees the seeds of this openness to collaboration in the group that worked on the regeneration of Temple Bar in the 90s, the predecessors and teachers of the architects exhibiting in London. The willingness to collaborate was something that became a cornerstone of one of the three installations for New Horizon, the red pavilion in Cubitt Square where TAKA, Clancy Moore and Steve Larkin collaborated on an installation that reflected the idea that cities are a type of collective construction. A collective undertaking implies a shared understanding of form and function in architecture. Raymund sees a few unifying values in this current Irish generation.
“There’s definitely an interest in context these days. That’s a very important issue for Irish architects. I think there’s an interest in the atmosphere of a place, in terms of climate and palette. I also think there’s a very healthy scepticism about globalisation. Everyone is playing in a very globalised world, and we can’t ignore that, but I think there’s an agenda in Ireland of trying to make spaces that are conscious of where they are and have a social and civic consciousness, and of making buildings that are not only about the architect’s ego. There is a global trend for architects being flown around the world and making what are basically big sculptures that are dropped onto unsuspecting cities. I think Irish architecture takes a more critical stance towards that.”
Catch the Red and Yellow Pavilions in their final days at London Festival of Architecture – until June 21st at Lewis Cubitt Square, King's Cross, London.
Words by Rachel Donnelly.