The Old Church of Dunlewey is a small white marble ruin which sits by a lake, at the foot of a mountain in beautiful pristine Irish countryside. From the assignment to make a redevelopment plan for a vacant church in Europe, this was the perfect location for my project. After a long journey through the Irish hills, I got overwhelmed with the serenity and natural beauty when I first got there. The geometric shapes of the church created a strong contrast which emphasised the organic shapes and pure colours of its surrounding landscape. Standing in the ruin, this experience got strengthened by the void and openness of the now abandoned church. The open roof, windows and entrance gave nature a visual framing and accentuated parts of this picturesque landscape, a ‘passe partout’. This impressive image is something I wanted to cherish and so it became the base of my concept.
This experience of contrast and framing will recur in multiple places throughout the landscape with minimalistic architectural interventions, emphasizing the elements: earth, water and air. Together, these form a cultural park where art can be created and exposed amidst the vacant landscape.
When we walk through nature we are surrounded by a constant amount of impressions of the beauty and serenity of the landscape. The empty minimalistic spaces create a certain distance between the landscape and the viewer to emphasise only one element. This focus creates a stronger experience and a new perception on the elements. At one of the buildings, for example, the river literally cuts through the space, allowing the visitors to cross the river from the inside. You can hear the river and see it, but experience this much more consciously.
Artists in residence can stay in the park for a period of three months, to create work and ultimately exhibit it in one of the spaces. Bathroom, kitchen, toilet and other facilities are incorporated behind the walls. Like this the space can be transformed back into an empty, white (exhibition) room after the artists departure. Like this work which is inspired by, for example, the water element can also be exhibited in the room which emphasizes the experience of water.