21/03/2011

Dublin Flats Exhibition Open

An exhibition of photographs of Dublin social housing flats complexes has been officially opened in the Irish Architectural Archive by the Dutch Ambassador, Robert Engels, in the presence of Cllr Ruairí McGinley representing the Lord Mayor of Dublin.

Taken by a young Dutch photographer, Willem Heeffer, these images present a fresh, analytical, view of what are often regarded as unloved buildings.

The provision of social housing is always politically charged, and the architecture of social housing can be inseparable from that politics. The buildings cease to be seen as buildings and are only viewed through the prism of the perceived successes or, perhaps more often, failures of individual schemes. And yet, the architecture deserves to be examined in its own right. The photographs of Willem Heeffer do just this.

Born in Hilvarenbeek in 1980, Heeffer studied at the Eindhoven Design Academy where he worked with the architect Wim Cuyvers, and graduated from the Department of Public Space in 2004. He moved to Ireland in October 2005 and now lives between Dublin and Helsinki working on design and photography projects.

Clear and detached, these photographs record a number of Dublin social housing schemes built between the late 1950s and the early 1970s. All were photographed as they were being, or just after they had been, cleared of tenants in preparation for their impending demolition.

In the exhibition catalogue, art historian William Laffan notes that ‘Heeffer photographs the Dublin flats in a format that traditionally has been accorded only to more elevated architectural typologies. His rigorously symmetrical presentation and low vantage point combine to give the block at O’Devaney Gardens – despite its dilapidated condition – the appearance of a twelve-bay mansion, and the building almost stands on its dignity and insists on its equality… Despite his seemingly dispassionate, unmediated approach, Heeffer extracts a similar beauty from the desolate remains of Dublin flats as others have from more promising material’.

Heeffer’s camera looks beyond the common-place perceptions of the subjects as hubs of disappointment and discontent. The buildings emerge from layers and years of preconceptions and prejudice to be examined on their architectural merits. What, if any, those merits are is a judgement the individual viewer will ultimately make.

The Irish Architectural Archive’s exhibition programme is supported by the ESB. The Archive gratefully acknowledges the support provided for this exhibition by the following: Dublin City Council; the Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government under Action 31 of the Government Policy on Architecture 2009-2015; the Department of Tourism, Culture and Sport; the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Dublin.

The exhibition runs until May 20 in the Irish Architectural Archive Gallery, 45 Merrion Square, Dublin 2. The Irish Architectural Archive Exhibition Gallery is open to the public from 10 am to 5 pm, Tuesdays to Fridays. Access is free. All are welcome.

(GK/KMcA)

Related Irish News Stories
Click here for the latest headlines.

10 March 2020
South Dublin Cllrs Criticised For Voting For Sale Of Public Land
Sinn Féin Housing spokesperson Eoin Ó Broin has voiced his disappointment that a majority of councillors on South Dublin County Council has voted to support the sale of public land to a private developer to deliver homes in Killinarden in Tallaght.
19 May 2014
Labour Euro Candidate Launches 'Seven Point Plan'
Labour European election candidate Emer Cotello, has vowed to make Europe work better for Dublin, as she launched a seven point plan as part of election campaign. One-third of Ireland’s population lives in Dublin. An economically vibrant Dublin is therefore vital to Ireland’s overall economic and social well-being.
17 February 2020
Dublin First Irish City To Commit To Improving Air Quality
Dublin has committed to becoming the first Irish city to actively work towards improving air quality, having signed up to meet WHO air quality guideline values by 2030.
07 January 2020
Dublin City Council To Boycott 'Obscene' Commemoration Event
Dublin City Council will boycott the government's planned commemoration of the Royal Irish Constabulary and Dublin Metropolitan Police. Councillors backed a motion which described the event, planned to be held in Dublin Castle on 17 January, as "obscene".
02 December 2019
Irish Woman Arrested On Suspicion Of Terrorist Offences
A 38-year-old Irish woman has been arrested at Dublin Airport on suspicion of terrorist offences following her deportation from Turkey. She is currently being detained at a South Dublin Garda station under the provisions of Section 30 of the Offences against the State Act, 1939 as amended.