07. September 2012 / Peter Zöch
The Unstable Ground of Venice – the Irish contribution at the Venice Biennale
After wandering through the many different exhibition spaces in the Arsenale, the Irish contribution offers a welcome chance for a break and some seesawing on an oscillating bench – a simple but sophisticated, playful but profoundly developed installation. It approaches both playful instincts as well as intellectual contemplation.
Images (3): Shifting Ground, at the Irish Pavilion – Venice Architecture Biennale 2012
How should a global architecture be grounded culturally and philosophically? How does it position itself outside of shared national reference points? These were the questions the curator John McLaughlin and the heneghan peng architects discussed. The architects developed the installation “Shifting Ground”, an oscillating bench that invites visitors to balance their respective weights. The horizontal level is calibrated against the mark of the aqua alta in the adjacent brickwork of the Arsenale building and in the drawings marking a datum in the floating ground of Venice.
heneghan peng architects also look at the universal language of projective geometry which they are using in other projects as well. For instance, the stone facade of the Giant’s Causeway Visitor Centre, which recently opened in Northern Ireland, takes precise measure of the properties of the volcanic basalt, seams from which it is hewn. The extraction of this stone is the subject of wall drawings recording the cutting of basalt for the facades of the building.
Image: Giant’s Causeway Visitor Centre, photo: Marie-Louise Halpenny
With their work the architects show how respectful they deal with the local context and the surrounding terrain, be it a building woven into a protected landscape or an installation reacting on the context of the site.