29. Irish Pavilion – Losing Myself
Commissioner: Niall MacLaughlin. Curator: Yeoryia Manolopoulou. Exhibitor: Níall McLaughlin (Níall McLaughlin Architects).
Visitors enter the space at the end of the Arsenale through a gap in the partition walls. The room is darkened, in contrast with the projected brightness on the floor. The floor accommodates a 4.8m x 6.4m animated drawing of the Alzheimer’s Respite Center. Dynamic, with multiple projected hands moving across the plane of the floor, that merge and overlap, as they create fragments of a plan. Labouring towards the clarity of a completed plan but falls short of achieving it. These hands represent sixteen individuals inhabiting a series of rooms at the Alzheimer’s Centre. Suspended speakers create a soundscape, consisting of the physical sounds of the act of drawing itself, layered with murmured conversations; sounds of rain and the sea; quotidian noises—a kettle boiling, children playing, people eating—and the bells of the Angelus.
According to the exhibitors “our report is a reflection on the lessons learnt through designing and revisiting buildings for people with dementia”. They had spoken to a broad range of people—neuroscientists, psychologists, health workers, philosophers, anthropologists, people with dementia and their families—about dementia, the brain, and the role of design in dementia care. These conversations are recorded on the website. The exhibtiors are interested in the social function of architecture: how it can improve the lives of people with dementia? Beyond this, it is hoped that the research into the impact of the condition on spatial cognition will equip with a deeper understanding of how all of minds interpret space.