For 2014 Biennale, architects were challenged by Biennale Director Rem Koolhaas with the concept ‘Absorbing Modernity’. This concept invited countries to look at the interaction between global modernisation on the one hand and local architectural cultures on the other.
Ireland’s entry for the 2014 exhibition was commissioned and curated by Gary A. Boyd and John McLaughlin. Ireland’s presentation 'Infra Éireann’ chronicled the iconic and landmark structures which formed the backdrop to an emerging and developing Irish nation over the last 100 years. Presenting familiar infrastructure in Ireland, on a decade by decade basis, it simultaneously captures the story of the Irish nation-building.
Commencing in 1916, with the opening image of the GPO, which was later to become the scene of the struggle for independence in 1916, and moving through the decades, the construction of new infrastructures was seen as part of the building of the new nation.The first such build by the Government between 1926 – 1929 was the Shannon hydro electrical scheme at Ardnacrusha. For this, the new Government imported Siemens Schuckert to build what was at the time one of the biggest hydro-electrical power stations in the world. Decade by decade, over the last century significant new infrastructures were constructed and architecturally important buildings designed to house them.
Ireland’s exhibition here at this Biennale will take you on that architectural and societal journey. From powering the State, to the construction of a hospital in Galway to deal with the eradication of the killer tuberculosis (TB), to the provision of a new secular school in the midlands and more recently the construction of the network of roads in and around Dublin and throughout our country to finally, the development of a new micro-processing board and the expansion of data centres to house the internet. This exhibition, curated by Gary and John, captured the uniqueness of the development of our small island nation on the most western part of Europe, and charted thesignificant progress and immense advances which we as a Nation embraced over this time.