Dublin’s ephemeral and imaginary architectures
Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceeding › Chapter (peer-reviewed)
It has been argued that temporary or ephemeral pieces of architecture, unburdened by the traditional constraints of firmitas or utilitas, have the ability to offer a concise distillation of meaning and intention. Approaching the qualities of rhetoric, such architectures share similarities with the monument and yet differ in fundamental ways. Their rapid construction in lightweight materials can allow for an almost instantaneous negotiation of zeitgeist. And, unlike the monument, from the outset the space and form of these installations is designed to disappear.
This paper analyses the ephemeral architectures of Dublin in the modern period contextualising their qualities and intentions as they manifest themselves across colonial, post-colonial and contemporary epochs. It finds origins in the theatrical sets of the late eighteenth century and traces their movements into the semi-public sphere of the pleasure garden and finally into the theatre of the streets. It is here that temporary architecture in the city has been at its most potent, allowing the amplification or subversion of the meanings of much larger spaces. Historically, much of Dublin’s most conspicuous instances of ephemeral architecture have been realised as a means of articulating mass spectacle in political, religious or nationalistic events. And while much of this has sought to confirm dominant ideologies, it has also been possible to discern moments of opposition.
The contemporary period, however, has arguably witnessed a shift in ephemeral architectures from explicitly representing ‘positive ideologies’ towards something more oblique or nebulous. This turn towards abstraction in form and space has rendered an especially communicative form of architecture particularly elusive. By examining continuities within the apparent disjuncture between historical and contemporary examples, this paper begins to unpick the language of recent ephemeral architecture in Dublin and situate it within wider global trends where political and economic imperatives are often simultaneously obscured and expressed in public space by a vocabulary of universality. As Jurgen Habermas has suggested, the contemporary value given to the transitory and the ephemeral ‘discloses a longing for an undefiled, immaculate and stable present’.
|Title of host publication||Visualizing Dublin: Visual Culture, Modernity and the Representation of Urban Space|
|Place of Publication||Oxford|
|Publication status||Published - 2014|