AAI Lecture: 3 x 2

McCullough Mulvin Architects does not have a simple message or produce recognisable trophy architecture for 21st century consumption. The practice is concerned with making buildings reflecting enduring concepts of time, place and nature - which guide where to build, where (and when) not to build, how to make something right in a place. Buildings are different as places and functions differ; ideas are layered; materials are used as long as they are interesting.  

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Ideas undergo constant questioning - methods of making - (static/monumental vs tense/linear), ways to explore the back of understanding through writing and film, thinking about how to make ordinary/special things in an age of extremes and superlatives - how to negotiate history in contemporary work (in layering, in typologies, in using ancient buildings as a source with their unavailability of intent and the revelation of archaeology) - about the phenomenology of construction - things being built up and then falling down. An aesthetic, a curiousity, a position on the fraility of things and the passage of time. It is also about simple things - light, materials, how to make public space in 21st century Ireland.

Architecture occurs at the junctions on, in and around geographies - of the past, of nature, of cities - the project an open question as much as a solution. Working in places like Dublin is, at least in part, an enquiry about what happened to the city and about how to reconnect the pieces, as much as a brightly new panacea to solve its ills. Living in Ireland sustains an interest in nature, in its phenomenal landscape, its weather and light - in how to build on it, in it, use it - making fissures that become opes, erosion that becomes ways of admitting light, making buildings that become geography - working on the tight line that divides nature and artifice - extending to archaeology - the nature of incision, revelation and layering. History is about memory - the inherited line of structure form and type - but also a specific response to and exploration of past and place - about a physical layering on existing buildings in the manner of Viollet le Duc.

Based in Ireland, the practice has always been interested in rootedness, in knowing some things well, in exploring universal themes in a particular place. This position has recently been challenged by new areas of work in the Indian Punjab, which push the methodologies of making buildings out of landscape, nature and place into a different scale, climate and context. Recently presented work – described as "3 x 2" - compares two projects in three parallel areas - public works using expressive tense and loose geometry/geographies, experiments in adherence (new buildings in the company of old ones), and building at scale in campus architecture in Ireland and India. 

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