Minister for Culture Mary Hanafin yesterday proclaimed an 18th-century oratory as “a little piece of Ireland in Venice”, at least for the duration of thisyear’s international architecture biennale. The oratory of San Gallo, which commemorates the early medieval Irish saint St Gall, is on a small campo near the Piazza San Marco. The building is now filled with stacks of paper illustrating the work of multiple-award-winning architects de Blacam and Meagher.
Commissioned by the Irish Architecture Foundation and curated by a team of young architects led by Tom de Paor, the exhibition, called Of de Blacam and Meagher , was hailed by the Minister as a brilliant realisation of this year’s biennale theme, People Meet in Architecture. As a champagne cork popped and flew into the air, Ms Hanafin said that de Blacam and Meagher – just like the medieval monks – had produced “magnificent manuscripts”, which visitors to the exhibition could look at and then take away.
Unlike other countries with national pavilions, Ireland was being celebrated through its architects in a space that seemed almost tailor-made for the purpose, showing de Blacam and Meagher’s “love of stone and brick and glass and wood”. Some of the company’s best-known buildings include Cork Institute of Technology, the Chapel of Reconciliation in Knock, the Wooden Building in Dublin’s Temple Bar and the Samuel Beckett Theatre and restored Dining Hall and Atrium in Trinity College.