Arts and Culture  Exhibition 

The Womens Biennale

From Freespace to Freewifi

Richard Ingersoll 
31/07/2018


The optimistic view of ‘Freespace’, a concept promoted by Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara, better known as Grafton Architects and this year’s Biennale curators, is that architecture can be generous while serving utilitarian functions. Leon Battista Alberti’s call for magnificenza comes to mind, whereby private patronage yields a gift to the city, and in their manifesto the Dublin-based architects dutifully cite the benches that circumscribe Palazzo Medici in Florence as an example of public virtue. While modern architecture has been subjected to many liberating precedents, in particular Le Corbusier’s free ground plane, free facade, free roof, and free plan, Freespace seems at once simpler and more ambiguous, not as much an axiom of design as an unpredictable outcome of it. Unfortunately, in the theoretical statement no mention is made of what might be called ‘unfree space,’ so one could conclude that Freespace is a bit like FreeWifi, a condition of most buildings...
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