Alzheimer's Disease is a form of dementia, one of a range of conditions that progressively degrade the synaptic connections within our brains. The condition erodes the ability to plan and to remember. It becomes gradually harder to situate yourself and to navigate your way in the world: two capacities central to the experience of architecture. We have worked for a decade, designing buildings for people with dementia. Losing Myself is a reflective report on the lessons we have learnt during this experience.
We have been invited to represent Ireland at the 15th International Architecture Exhibition. Our response to the brief for the 2016 Biennale – Reporting from the Front – is an immersive installation in Venice that attempts to reflect on our own experience as architects working to ‘improve the quality of life while working on the margins, under tough circumstances, facing pressing challenges’. We have chosen the medium of a time-based projected drawing to embody our ideas. The drawing will reflect upon the way in which the human mind constructs intertwined representations of situation and memory: what the poet Philip Larkin calls ‘the million-petaled flower/Of being here.’
This website is a repository for our research. We are striving to expand our understanding and inform our practice, in the life of this project and into the future. Here, we will document a series of interdisciplinary conversations with experts across a range of fields – neuroscientists, psychologists, health workers, philosophers and anthropologists – as well as people with dementia and their families. We will collate stories of personal interactions with dementia. We will also record the process of developing our central Venice installation: drawing and making in collaboration with others. This mosaic of information is aimed not only at architects, but at anyone working in the field of dementia and individuals who deal with the condition day to day.
Losing Myself is researched, designed and produced collaboratively by Niall McLaughlin and Yeoryia Manolopoulou.
Ireland at Venice is an initiative of Culture Ireland in partnership with the Arts Council.
Losing Myself is supported by Culture Ireland; the Arts Council; the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland; the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht; the Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL; Online Reprographics and RTÉ Archives.
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Collaborators and acknowledgements