City, Assembled provides an opportunity for visitors to become displaced from their immediate surroundings, enabling a re-imagination of Dublin’s civic space. The exhibition references the Dublin Civic Exhibition 1914 and the Dublin Town Planning Competition 1914, both inspired by the work of Scotsman Patrick Geddes. Geddes, a biologist by training, was a town planner and sociologist with diverse interests including the theories of education and knowledge, the arts and history. He was invited to organise the 1914 exhibition and subsequent town planning competition by Lord and Lady Aberdeen in order to re-imagine Dublin as ‘the phoenix of cities’ during a period of economic, social and political strife.
Only three of the eight entries made to the Dublin Town Planning Competition 1914 are known to remain, dispersed throughout various institutions in Ireland and America. Using film and photography this exhibition brings the archival material together in one location. It aims to show Dublin then and now, conveying the ambition of the 1914 proposals, allowing for a renewed awakening and re-imagination of our city’s planning.
The main element of the exhibition is a moving panorama inspired by the painted panorama, invented by Irish born Robert Barker. The panorama played an important role in 19th century cultural life and was one of many spectacular forms of entertainment that became available to citizens at a reasonable price. In 1821 one of the earliest moving panoramas is recorded to have been exhibited on Lower Abbey Street in Dublin in a purpose-built pavilion; it is said to have outsold ‘high art’ of the time due to its cheap seating prices. These, along with Edinburgh’s Outlook Tower designed by Patrick Geddes, one of the main organisers and curator of the Dublin Civic Exhibition 1914, have been a major influence on the design of City, Assembled.
The City, Assembled panorama presents the viewer with a displaced and somewhat distorted view of their immediate surroundings: South William Street outside the City Assembly House. It combines film, photography and projection with the aim of representing civic space in a new light to invoke thought and contemplation on how we view our cities.A rotating projector throws a populated film onto an unpopulated printed screen to create a unique immersive panorama experience. The development of these technical aspects of the exhibition was achieved through collaboration with Finbarr Crotty, Aran Hennessey, and Niamh McNamara (supervised by Donald Taylor Black, Anne O’Leary and Matt Skinner) of the Institute of Art, Design and Technology.
The exhibition has been designed, constructed and curated by Cillian Briody, Matthew Mullin and David O’Mahony, three Masters of Architecture students studying at the School of Architecture, University College Dublin (supervised by Stephen Mulhall, lecturer in the School of Architecture). The three students, in their final year of study, have undertaken this public exhibition as part of their academic studies. It is their first collective public exhibition and has been an exciting learning opportunity for them. The exhibition was developed through design-based research, which enabled the students to explore structure and space at a scale of 1:1, an opportunity rarely accessible to students of architecture during their education.