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Shifting Ground (Beyond National Architecture)

[The Irish Pavilion: Heneghan Peng Architects] This year’s exhibit looks at architecture’s relation to networks of products, data, and knowledge. It asks how a global architecture could be grounded culturally, philosophically and spatially

ireland is one of the most globalised countries in the world and this year’s irish pavilion exhibit at the Venice Biennale looks at architecture’s relation to networked flows of products, data, and knowledge. it asks how a global architecture could be grounded culturally, philosophically and spatially and if it can sit outside national reference points.

Heneghan peng architects was selected because the practice typically works across different continents on a range of diverse projects.
our dialogue led us to a discussion about the universal languages of projective geometry and number being shared by architects and related professionals. in their work, the specific embodiment of these geometries is carefully calibrated by the choice of materials and their detailed design.

The stone facade of Heneghan peng architects’ Giant’s Causeway Visitor Centre in antrim takes precise measure of the properties of the volcanic basalt seams from which it is hewn. The extraction of the stone is the subject of wall drawings that record the cutting of basalt to create the facade of the building.

We also identified water as the element that is shared across the different sites. Venice is a perfect place to take measure of this element, which suggests links to another site; the nile Valley. An ancient egyptian rod for measuring the water level of the nile inspired the design of a responsive oscillating bench that invites visitors to balance their respective weights. The bench constitutes a shifting ground located in the unstable field of Venice. it is about measurement and calibration of the weight of the body in relation to other bodies, in relation to the site of the installation, and in relation to water. it is located in the artiglierie section of the arsenale. its level is calibrated against the mark of the acqua alta in the brickwork of the neighbouring building, which marks a horizontal datum in a floating world.

John McLaughlin, curator

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