Science Gallery, Trinity College Dublin
A proposal for the Naughton Institute in collaboration with Tom de Paor, architect, is based partly around two ideas - display and sociability. The scheme looks at how the most up-to-date methods can become the drivers for an architectural response to the gallery space. In particular the use of ionised interlayers in laminated glass screens, which can transmit digital information, as we envisage the majority of straight scientific material to be presented in these types of media, i.e. light-emitting, as projections, back-projections, flat-screen interactive technology and traditional vitrines. Indeed, the new installation would be viewed at night as a large vitrine. The other principle idea driving the scheme is that of sociability – making spaces that transform an existing shell into a co-ordinated series of spatial, social events, including the café. So we have decided on a strategy of making an independent display structure within the space, which can deliver the maximum spatial effect while acting as the vehicle for flexible display systems, and delivering cost efficiency for the overall project.
The position of the staircase is identified as an impediment – we propose to tackle it by transforming the circulation through the space, and thus the way it is percieived. The metaphor for this work is the image of Laokoon wrestling with the snake sent by Poseidon to kill him. We take Laokoon to represent the staircase and the snake to represent our intervention. The new display structure therefore contains the staircase within it, while at the same time being based on a repetitive volumetric – in this case a truncated pentahedron. We have emphasised the notion of an independent structure seen to inhabit and figure against the two-storey space when viewed from the street.
The best purpose-built museum building in Ireland also happens to be the oldest – the Natural History Museum on Merrion Street. While the Science Gallery assumes a more flexible brief, able to constantly adapt to changing exhibition requirements, there are nevertheless essential similarities with the museum type – namely the requirement to display information or objects to the public in the clearest, most engaging way possible. This is why our proposal is seen as an extended vitrine within a social space, but which has the added advantage of communicating an idea to the street.
There is other work, which exists on the boundaries where art and science meet. Often artists are concerned with mathematical or physical equations derived from theoretical work, which are then found to support real observations many decades later. In a sense, this is saying that there is nothing that we can conceive of which is outside nature. Exhibitions of this type of work will have their own requirements, which we believe can be accommodated on the walls and open floor spaces of the main exhibition spaces at either end of the plan.