This paper explores the relationship between architectural design and research in the context of a particular example, the development of the Irish pavilion for the 14th architectural biennale in Venice 2014 (Infra-Éireann) and its reiteration and expansion in Ireland for the State’s centennial celebrations 1916–2016 (Making Ireland Modern). Originally responding to Rem Koolhaas’s call to investigate the international absorption of modernity, the pavilion sought to engage with the properties of the architectures of infrastructure in twentieth and twenty-first-century Ireland. Central to this proposition was that infrastructure is simultaneously a technological and cultural construct, one that for Ireland occupied a critical position in the building of a new, independent post-colonial nation state. Presupposing infrastructure as consisting of both visible and invisible networks, the idea of a matrix became a central theoretical and visual tool in the curatorial and design process for both the pavilion and its contents. To begin with this was a two-dimensional grid used to identify and order what became described as a series of ten infrastructural episodes. These were determined chronologically across the decades between 1916 and 2016 and their spatial manifestations articulated in terms of scale: micro, meso and macro. What emerged in the design and research process was a dialectic relationship between the pavilion and its content as logistical and conceptual concerns merged to realise an adaptive framed modular structure, imagined as an embodied manifesto and, analogous to infrastructure, as having no fixed form.
- design research