Describing Architecture

Open Call 2014

DA 2014 Call for Submissions-logo 400

Describing Architecture  |   Memory and Place   |   17 October – 8 November 2014


Actual architectural structures, as well as remembered architectural images and metaphors serve as significant memory devices in…different ways.
– Juhani Pallasmaa


Call for Submissions

Download a PDF of the Call here

Describing Architecture was inaugurated in 2010 as an annual exhibition exploring architectural representation and its pivotal role in designing and documenting built space. The exhibition continues to embrace alternative modes of representation and approaches to design, with a view to providing visitors with meaningful insight into the practice of architecture, alongside its critical relationship to the visual arts environment.

Beginning this year the intention is to extend the programme of the exhibition over a longer two-year period with the aim of allowing a fuller exploration of the selected theme ‘Memory and Place’. The exhibition in October and submissions to the open call will be used as the primary source material and inspiration for further strands to emerge from the submitted work. In this way the exhibition will seek to produce rather than merely convey knowledge. These collections will develop and respond to the particulars of each configuration, using physical exhibition, print publication, online catalogue or digital media, to ensure the widest possible audience and engagement with the work.

‘Memory and Place’ is thematically connected to the immediate locality of the exhibition venues as well as to broader contemporary concerns across architecture, geography, art and society. Distinguished Finnish architect, Juhani Pallasmaa, argues in his essay ‘Space, Place, Memory and Imagination’ that ‘buildings project epic narratives’, reaffirming the view that the creation of place is fundamentally integral to society’s attachment to memory, individual and collective – to human constructions of space and its use.

On a domestic level it can be seen as the vital, although often unnoticed, linguistic distinction between house and home — a difference we innately know and sense in our bodies. What then defines a given place and how do its particular characteristics condition the various ways it is used? How might place shape human interaction, restricting or enabling sociality? Pallasmaa stakes out the position that architectural structures ‘domesticate space for human occupation by turning anonymous, uniform and limitless space into distinct places of human significance, and equally importantly, they make endless time tolerable by giving duration its human measure’. Following on from the work of Pallasmaa and relevant to the ‘Memory and Place’ exhibition, several interrelated questions can be identified:

– How, for example, can the memory and history of a site lead to the development of a newly imagined or continued sense
of place?
– How does architectural practice engage with the conditions of place and how might a sense of place be developed during
the design process?
– Can architectural practice in and of itself engender place and place-making?
– How do the quantifiable metrics of space develop into the characteristics of place?
– Is there a connection between how things are made and the experience of place?


Exhibition Venues: City Assembly House and Powerscourt Townhouse Centre
This year, Describing Architecture will be located across two venues: the Octagonal Room of the City Assembly House, South William Street – the first purpose built exhibition space in Ireland and Britain (1766), in addition to installing work in the adjoining Powerscourt Townhouse Centre (1774), taking advantage of the Centre’s unique bustling location and established footfall.

Open-Medium Submissions
Submissions are invited in any medium from anyone. The exhibition has previously included work across a wide range of media – drawing, text, photography, model and film – and from a broad spectrum of participants, including among others, architects, artists, students and graduates. Describing Architecture presents an opportunity to step outside established professional working constraints in order to use the exhibition as a productive space, to learn from other practitioners. Work in progress can be submitted, and due to the scale of the spaces, there are opportunities to support the inclusion of large format work.

First Stage: Online Submission
Deadline: Friday 19th September 2014 by 6pm
Format: Email work for selection to:
Include: Title, Medium and Size, Brief written description, 1-3 jpg images of proposed submission (images of work in progress can also be included)

Participants will be notified by Friday 26th September, with final delivery for 9th October

Powerscourt Residency
In parallel with the exhibition, there is an opportunity to respond directly to the Powerscourt Townhouse building in the form of a practice based residency in the Centre. The residency will initially be framed by the thematic concerns above, and will include the opportunity to sell work through an exhibition within the Centre. The details of the residency will be developed in tandem with the selected practitioner, Describing Architecture and the Powerscourt Townhouse Centre. Additional residencies may be available over future months. Residency submissions should include outline proposals and examples of previous work – see contact details and deadline above.

The exhibition is organised and curated by Antóin Doyle, part-funded by the Architectural Association of Ireland and the Royal Institute of Architects of Ireland, with support from DCC, IAF and NCAD. Venue support is provided with thanks to the Irish Georgian Society and Powerscourt Townhouse, with exhibition sponsorship and expertise from Hackett Reprographics and Woodworkers.

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