Based in Dublin, TAKA is an architectural practice founded by Alice Casey ARB (UK) and Cian Deegan MRIAI. TAKA exhibited in the Venice Architectural Biennale in 2008 and co-curated the Irish Pavilion in 2010. As well as numerous national and international awards, TAKA have been nominated for the Mies Van der Rohe award and were finalists in the 2014 BD Young Architect of the Year Award. As a practice, TAKA is concerned with the communicative potential of architecture, with tectonic expression and with place making.
We spoke to Cian Deegan ahead of TAKA’s participation in New Horizon_architecture from Ireland at London Festival of Architecture 2015 where this year, Ireland becomes the inaugural Country of Focus for the event.
TAKA worked collaboratively with Clancy Moore and Steve Larkin on one of two pavilions that will be installed at Kings Cross in the centre of the city as part of New Horizon. The architects were asked to make something that expressed their position on architecture and which also reflected the festival’s theme for the year ‘Work in Progress’, on a city scale.
When asked about the process of working collaboratively with his fellow architects, Cian is extremely positive. All three work and live in Dublin and, as Cian describes, share common ground in their values and goals. The collaborative process itself was really a blank slate - the only pre-existing idea they brought to the festival commission was to make something that talked about the city.
The idea for the pavilion came from the square itself [Cubitt Square in Kings Cross]. It’s an undeveloped space at the moment, with construction sites surrounding it on two sides, so we came up with the idea of having a thick façade, something that created a face to the square. We wanted to give a sense of definition to a space that was in a transitional state. But it was also very important to us that this façade was inhabitable at some level.
Cian identifies his goals and values as centring on civic consciousness, or the creation of civic buildings that are somehow sympathetic to the inhabitants of the city.
I think there’s a certain generosity of spirit to façades that have civic depth – building fronts that offer a space to shelter in the rain or market space below, or façade that offer an outside space to the inside of the buildings.
The decision to work collaboratively on the pavilion was also key, on several levels. The group’s desire to work explicitly with the notion of the city within the festival’s theme of ‘Work in Progress’ combined to prompt the reflection that cities are not, and should not be, the result of a single voice.
We understand that the city is something that is not done by a single hand. It should be created through multiple iterations or overlapped, the result of lots of things at once by lots of people. This understanding really fed into the collaborative nature of the pavilion.
For TAKA as a practice themselves, the LFA commission is a significant opportunity for exposure, as well as a return to their architectural roots.
New Horizon is amazing for us – we both [Cian and partner Alice Casey] moved to London after we qualified and spent three years there learning our trade. So to be able to come back and make something in the city is really exciting. It’ll be very interesting to see what the London architecture community think of it – it’s not a ‘safe’ pavilion, in that it’s a bit of a risk, but it’s a great opportunity to make something very public. And, on the collaborative note again, we’ve never really had the chance to work with the other practices before, so it’s also building relationships for the future.
New Horizon_architecture from Ireland runs at London Festival of Architecture until June 21st 2015.
Words by Rachel Donnelly.