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Grafton co-founders to curate Venice Biennale 2018

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The founders of Dublin-based practice Grafton Architects, Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara, have been chosen to curate next year’s Venice Biennale

The winners of the Jane Drew Prize in 2015 will follow in the footsteps of Chilean architect Alejandro Aravena, who was responsible for choosing the theme for last year’s annual architectural showcase – Reporting from the Front. Farrell and McNamara will reveal the theme for next year’s event in the autumn.

Grafton Architects has exhibited at the Biennale several times. Farrell and McNamara represented Ireland in 2002 and exhibited again in 2008. The duo won the Silver Lion at the Biennale in 2012, where they presented their project for the UTEC University campus in Lima, Peru – the winner of the RIBA’s inaugural International Prize last year. The practice was again represented at the Biennale in 2016 under the title The Physics of Culture.

Biennale president Paolo Baratta declared: ’The exhibition curated by Alejandro Aravena offered visitors a critical overview of the worldwide evolution of architecture and underlined how important it is that a qualified demand on the part of individuals and communities be met by an equally effective response, thereby confirming that architecture is one of civil society’s instruments for organizing the space in which it lives and works.

’Along these lines, Farrell and McNamara will continue to address the same theme but from the point of view of the quality of the public and private space, of urban space, of the territory and of the landscape as the main ends of architecture.’

Julian Robinson of the London School of Economics, which is working with Grafton on its new building at 44 Lincoln’s Inn Fields (pictured bottom) said: ’This is great news for Grafton.

’We’re so pleased to have commissioned them for our wonderful new building.’

Among Grafton’s other works are the Dunshaughlin Civic Offices, the Parson’s Building at Trinity College, a new building for the Università Bocconi in Milan, Italy - the overall winner of WAF 2008 - and the ongoing design and delivery of a competition-winning Kingston University Town House.

The firm has won the Architectural Association of Ireland’s awards many times and was a finalist for the Stirling Prize with its University of Limerick Medical School and Student Accommodation.

Both partners began teaching at University College of Dublin in 1976, and remain professors of architecture at the Accademia di Mendrisio and Adjunct Professors in UCD. 

They held the Kenzo Tange Chair at GSD Harvard in 2010 and the Louis Kahn Chair at Yale in 2011. 

The 16th International Architecture Exhibition opens on 26 May 2018 and runs until 25 November.

Grafton view of entrance from lincoln's inn fields

Grafton view of entrance from lincoln’s inn fields 

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