Wednesday, November 3rd


Today, SAUL contribution to Design Week will feature Lytle Shaw and Jan Frohburg in discussion. The evening’s headline is DESCRIPTION taking cues from The Drawing Board’s attempt to capture and describe an architect’s design process.

LSAD Church Gallery (Clare Street, Limerick) – starting at 7pm.


Saturday, October 16th, 2010.

Today, with James O’Donovan & Stephen Barry added to the team, we actually completed the construction of the pallet stack – floor cover, monitor and seating felt to follow.

James & Steve – thank you!

Real stuff

Thursday, 14th October 2010.

150 pallets have been delivered and stowed. 1 mile of polypropylene strapping and 75 square meters of underlay are at hand. The project is taking physical reality.

We want to thank Wood Systems of Ballinrobe, Co. Mayo for generously supplying us with wooden pallets. Limerick Packaging for strapping and tools. James Clery Furniture and Flooring, Limerick for underlay. Limerick Paint Supplies for the loan of a forklift. And all the caretakers at LSAD for their help in moving the pallets.

Method Statement

Wednesday, 13th October 2010.

Upon delivery, the wooden pallets will be moved by motorised pallet truck operated by instructed personnel. No lifting equipment will be used inside the church gallery. The construction process is designed to create a stepped set-up so that every single pallet can be carried up safely by a two-person team. The maximum height is 2.40m above floor (the pallets shown in the illustration are 1200mm long, 800mm wide and 144mm high). Pallets are stacked flat. Already during the process the pallets are secured in place by industrial-grade polypropylene strapping. Dismantling happens in reverse order to construction. The construction and dismantling process are supervised by a team member involved in the design process. During construction and dismantling all involved are advised to wear appropriate work gear: protective footwear and rigger gloves when handling the pallets. Supervision during the exhibition remains in the responsibility of the curators.


Tuesday, 5th October, 2010.

A team of architecture students from SAUL, the School of Architecture at the University of Limerick, was commissioned to design an indoor installation to facilitate the viewing of a documentary film as part of the Table of Contents exhibition. The conception and design of this installation was to become part of this exhibition project on creative practice as an exemplar of architectural creativity. – ‘The Drawing Board’ are Edel Murphy, Diarmuid O’Súilleabháin, Adrian Clery and Jan Frohburg.

Taking inspiration from the many depictions of St Jerome in his study, the Drawing Board proposes creating a ‘room within a room,’ a situation that induces focused attention whilst maintaining a tensioned balance between the imposing presence of LSAD’s Church Gallery and the intimate experience of watching artists’ creations unfold before your eyes. The proposed intervention intends to remove the viewer from the simultaneous confines of the white-walled exhibition space and the former church, and to provide a distinctly different sensorial experience that allows the space to be viewed in a new way.

Set out to control movement, to arrest the visitors’ wanderings through the exhibition the installation guides them around and up into the viewing space. Aiming to create a threshold situation rather than containment, the design explores possibilities of a raised platform in combination with a suspended or transparent envelope. With an interest in slowness comes attention to detail and texture that informs the choice of materials. The design engages materials that combine apparent lightness and sensuality with an assertive strength vis-à-vis the eclectic church interior. – With the project limited to a minimal budget, the design takes recourse to using borrowed materials and rendering an elementary spatial condition by defining two sides of an enclosure and the floor.


Tuesday, 5th October, 2010.

We have revised the design and simplified the arrangement in response to limited funds and time for realisation. Materials were reduced to rough wooden pallets and soft felt covering. The raised platform is enclosed on two sides. The stack-pattern creates a niche for the monitor, now becoming an integral part of the structure.

About to fold

Friday, 20th August, 2010.

While the platform had found a rather satisfying resolution playing out the tension between common elements and ennobling surfaces, the suspended envelope proved to be much less ‘accessible’ to our design effort. Rather than thinking and sketching, it was the active engagement of our hands creating various folding patters that opened up a fresh approach.

We aim to condense structure and surface into the same element. Initially envisioned as being made from felt as well with the support of a plywood frame, folded industrial-grade cardboard suspended from a continuous rail now seems another viable option. Attaching the monitor for screening the documentary to the top rail will rely on custom-made ‘suspenders.’

The Borrowed Platform

Thursday, 19th August, 2010.

Our original idea of transforming the platform's structure into benches after the exhibition is over was rejected in favour of a different approach to sustainability. The platform will simply be a borrowed instillation – a stack of standard wooden pallets strapped together and covered in a soft felt.

The pallet dutifully fulfils our needs both structurally and in its dimensions. An arrangement of 4 x 5 pallets gradually layers up to lift us out of the space and form steps of a gentle gradient. After the exhibition is finished they will be returned to the where they came from – a local timber recycling centre who have kindly agreed to provide us with the pallets for the show's duration.

The platform does not conceal the logic behind its construction, but rather embraces it. The sides of the pallets remains visible along with polypropylene straps and seals, weaving through the pallets and stitching the overall piece together. Neatly clamped in place, they provide an insight into the process of how the individual units are connected.

Looking up

Wednesday, 18th August, 2010.

Closely scrutinising our initial assumptions about the position of the HD monitor prompted us to revise measurements and positioning of the suspended screen. Equally taking optimum viewing distance and angle into account as well as views into the domed space, the screen sits lower at the monitor end for controlled viewing and lifts at the opposite end to allow for sufficient clearance when stepping up unto the platform.

Suspending the screen above the platform allows the exhibition space to be experienced as a continuous whole without fragmenting it further. Once ‘inside,’ the surrounding exhibition is veiled from view, allowing the viewers’ concentration to focus on the documentary screened.

Where we are at

Tuesday, 17th August, 2010.

Yesterday’s presentation, with one week to go, provided not only some crucial input but also insight into the turbulences any design process is likely to encounter. Faced with a limiting restriction, one’s own conceptual stance has to become clearer once again – we have to show what kind of architects we want to be.

As a result, the recent discussion confirmed the basic propositions of our design. Responding to the curators’ intentions, to the given exhibition space and certain expectations about the documentary to be shown we focus on notions of Slowness, Threshold and Movement and strive to create a setting that allows to ‘see the space differently.’ We propose to create a raised platform (approx. 6 by 3.5 metres) within the Church Gallery and to hang a four-sided screen enveloping the space above the platform, both combining to create a ‘space within a space’ without restrictive containment. Thus controlling light, view and sound the documentary will be shown inside the suspended screen. This installation is positioned in the gallery space vis-à-vis the entrance/exit to conclude a tour of the exhibition, defining distinct exhibition areas either side of it whilst overstepping some of the divides that otherwise break the church space into separate entities.

During the discussion the use of a high-definition monitor or a projector to show the film was called into question. Our proposal was dimensioned for optimum viewing on a monitor, and unless indicated otherwise, we will pursue this further. We have contacted the filmmaker Daniel Keane for his view on related issues. Likewise, the modesty of viewing a film versus the grand gesture of suspending the four-sided screen above a platform was questioned. While we believe the setting provides for more than just viewing the film and responds to the gallery space, we can sensibly respond to these concerns in our proposal. Upon exploring our thoughts on sustainability we will have to scrutinise further the idea of transforming parts, pieces and materials used in our structure to serve subsequent purposes, to develop a robust proposal for ‘up-cycling’ or investigate alternative ideas.

As another result of the last client meeting it was made clear that additional funding beyond the limited budget of the exhibition project is not available; the actual costing of our proposal and the idea of sponsorship became imminently relevant. Faced with the possibility of pairing down our current proposal so that it can be cheaply realised, we prefer to engage our design intelligence to propose a convincing way to construct and ultimately realise our design. While the hope of seeing our proposal realised has driven many of our considerations, we are convinced that a design that is intelligent and plausible as well as poetic and elegant may prove to be more seductive and enticing when looking for extra funding than a paired-down cost-saver. Or, as it has been put more frankly, “It would be a pity if it wasn’t built, but it would be more of a pity if it was crap.”

After the show

Friday, 23rd July, 2010

Work comes to a break for the drawing board. Today was spent working out the mechanics of the viewing setting. For now, it comprises of a platform and screen designed to transform and live on in the art college as benches and a sound absorbing cloud in the canteen, with efficiency of structure and sustainability as a driving force throughout the design process

A rearrangement

Thursday, 22nd July, 2010.

A day spent analysing costs, investigating structures that can transform and live on and finding fields of future pasture...

Down to the donkey work

Wednesday, 21st July, 2010.

On coming to a block, instead of looking for answers, we asked questions. Through a process of prioritisation and exclusion we ask, is there a way in which the piece can live on and enhance?

Down to nuts and bolts

Monday, 19th July, 2010

What is the building made of? We explore and scrutinise our choice of materials. Working on detail for the first time, we try and further push our ideas but the podium and screen put up good resistance.

Forces take form

Friday, 16th July, 2010.

A day spent making collages and models at large scale sees our four points and reality issues meet. These forces have made our first recognisable form (there is also a small cameo made by our missing donkeys).

What could possibly go wrong?

What is it made of?

What goes if the budget is cut by half?

Moment of poetry?

Thursday, 15th July, 2010.

Pace improves today as problems are teased out and project forces begin to take on their form.

A slow day, a pace of Donkeys

Wednesday, 14th July, 2010.

Full scale maquettes of life drawing Donkeys are made and explored as we grapple with marrying them with the natural desired path through the space and the mechanics of viewing the film with a HD television.

Things begin to narrow down and become more clear

Tuesday, 13th July, 2010

Dead ends with linen, as material, and mezzanine, as exhibition space, lead to a day of studies, research and exploration on (Drawing) Horse as a way of defining a space in the gallery and displaying a process and our process.