Settlement I, Anthony Haughey 2011, Courtesy of Belfast Exposed
My name is Catherine McCormick and I’m currently working as one of the research interns at PLACE. As a means of getting to know the architectural community in Belfast, I’ve spent my first couple of weeks at PLACE checking out a number of exhibitions currently running in galleries within the city, with the intention of blogging about them after!
Currently held in the Belfast Exposed Gallery, ‘Settlement’ is a photographic and architectural exhibition by Anthony Haughey, which explores how economic growth in Ireland affected the natural landscape.
I could see, from our larger towns and cities, to the smallest rural villages, how Anthony has captured these ‘ghost estates’, which have been left incomplete as a result of the collapse of Ireland’s ‘Celtic Tiger’ economy. The effects are portrayed through an excellent combination of darkness, artificial light and long exposures.
This collapse saw the immediate end of more than fifteen years of growth as the bank’s dissolved developer’s loans, which ultimately ceased building projects across Ireland. This has now left the once picturesque landscapes dotted with unfinished houses and estates. The National Institute for Regional and Spatial Analysis 2010 estimated that there are currently more than 620 ‘ghost estates’ and thousands of empty houses throughout Ireland. It could be suggested that these ‘ghost towns’ signify the end of Ireland’s gold rush and express the effects of hastily building housing estates in tandem with unregulated growth.
Settlement XVI, Anthony Haughey 2011. Courtesy of Belfast Exposed
The Exhibition which has been running since June 29th compromises a number of elements, such as; a series of landscape photographs showing ‘ghost towns’ in Ireland throughout 2010/2011, a large architectural installation, and a number of propositions which re-imagine a selection of vacant, dis-used and unfinished sites throughout Ireland.
The architectural model and design proposals featured in the exhibition are result of the collaboration between Anthony Haughey, Paul O’Sullivan, UCD Architecture students, the DIT NAMAlab project and Mahoney Architects, where the idea was to reimagine and redesign these disused, unfinished sites.
The photographs presented are quite moving in how they capture the implications economic downturn can have on the construction industry whether you’re an architect, planner, builder or resident. This is a great exhibition for those of you who have a spare half hour passing through town and have an interest in architecture and design in the South of Ireland.
The Exhibition will run until August 10th 2012
Settlement: Where Do We Go from Here? Panel Discussion: 9 August, 2pm. This discussion is free but please RSVP to [email protected] to reserve a place.