Category Architecture

Architecture, Design, Exhibition, Research

From June 15th to August 27th “Experiments in Urban Re-use, regeneration, culture and architecture in the Ravenna Docklands”, work by the cultural association Meme Exchange and the architectural firms Officina Meme and Atelier Francis will be exhibited in Dublin Castle as part of the ‪#‎GlobalIrishDesign Challenge exhibition.


Global Irish Design Challenge Social Media Promotion Image



The project ‘Experiments in Urban Re-use’ will be presented at ‪#‎GIDC Exhibition as a portolan navigational chart, a cube like a shipping crate, that can be reassembled and transported elsewhere.


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 “culture-led redevelopment of urban areas … should be promoted to preserve the social fabric, improve economic returns and increase competitiveness, by giving impetus to a diversity of intangible cultural heritage practices as well as contemporary creative expressions”.  The Hangzhou Declaration on Sustainable Development


List of  selected projects at…/

Design & Crafts Council of Ireland DCCoI Events Irish Design 2015 ‪#‎irishdesign




Architecture, Exhibition

Ireland at Expo Milano 2015

Irish Pav. Expo15 Ext. 16


“In the same way that Irish food is both hand crafted, sustainable and made to modern standards the Irish pavilion is an architectural abstraction of these same goals. Ireland is a lush green island on the edge of Europe. The curved shaped pavilion is set within a water pool with a sail like wood wall of boat like construction. Delicate and ethereal light is modulated by the water pool and small gaps in the curved wall such that the strong Italian light is softened like Irish light. A green roof garden gives views over the whole Expo campus while also providing a special rooftop event space.”


Irish Pav. Expo15 Ext. 18



The Irish pavilion is designed by Ciarán O’Connor and Gerard Harvey of the Office of Public Works using local wood for a sustainable design with a very low carbon footprint. The architectural design is therefore an environmental response and not just a national statement to the sustainability ideals of this Expo.

The Irish Design Team was assisted by local architects and engineers including:

Milan Ingegneria

BMMC Architecture

Elizabeth Francis of ‘Atelier Francis’ - Participant Technical Supervisor


Irish Pav. Expo15 Int. 173_ Irish Pav. Expo15 Ext. 55

Photos Daniele Domenicali


The Project was awarded a ‘Towards a Sustainable Expo Player’ Award  for Building Concept and Construction. On the 5th June 2015 the Italian Minister for the Environment, Gian Luca Galletti, and the United Nations Environmental Programme Director, Achim Steiner, visited the Irish Pavilion and presented the award plaque.


Ireland Pavilion at Expo Milano 2015

Expo Milano 2015, 01 May 2015 to 31 October 2015




Architecture, Research





Meme Exchange has presented the project “Experiments in Urban Re-Use, Regeneration, Culture and Architecture in the Ravenna Docklands. The Tsn – Tiro a Segno Nazionale” at the 2014 International Union of Architects World Congress in Durban South Africa from August 3-7.

Schermata 2014-10-06 alle 10.12.30

The UIA congress is held every three years and it is the most important meeting of architects in the world. This year the theme was ‘Architecture Otherwhere’ and it was attended by 4.213 delegates from 102 countries.




Meme Exchange, represented by architect Elizabeth Francis, presented an academic paper on the Ravenna project in the congress section ‘Ecology’. The paper was selected through a double blind peer review process and describes the events that the architects and cultural association have been pursuing with a view to the regeneration of the TSN historical site as part of the Ravenna 2019 European City of Culture bid.


It presented for the first time the new design for an OFF-GRID PROTOTYPE BUILDING that will facilitate events in abandoned spaces.



Schermata 2014-10-06 alle 10.05.57


First Encounter


With George Boyle of  The Fumbally Exchange in conversation with Una Mullally in the Irish Times Magazine.


ASTEROID landing 2013



Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!




meme _ aF with 1×1 architettura and artist Seamus Kennedy


Meterologically appropriate project…


An asteroid fell to earth and crashed in a dense forest. Shockwaves ran out through the earth. It burned and smouldered and cooled and set­tled…and winter came.

Night fell and the hiker was still on the trail. The wind was rising and the cold was biting. He had come too far to turn back and still had too far to go. Suddenly through the trees he saw a warm glow. In the darkness a pure solid form emerged. He instinc­tively turned towards it, attracted by the warmth, by the welcome. As he approached he saw an orange light pulsating like embers through a soft transparent skin. He found an opening and entered. At once he felt safe, en­veloped in a snow-like brightness. He smiled at the black stone at its heart and sat and rested. The morning light filtering through woke him from his slumber and he continued his journey.




A collaborative project between architects Elizabeth Francis (atelier Francis) and Cristina Garavelli (1×1 architettura) with artist Seamus Kennedy, transforming a sculptural design into a refuge.
The concept of the design is to create a space that evokes the feeling of an ice cave. The sculptural form appears ephemeral and fragile but in fact it is highly resistant.

By day it shimmers resembling an ice form and it’s transparency means that it almost blends into the landscape. By night the blinking coloured LED lights create a pulsating effect, arousing the visitor’s curiosity and attracting them to approach and enter. State of the art materials contribute to the sustainability of the design. The membrane skin is made from ETFE which is insulating and can be fully recycled. Thin-skin Photovoltaics are incorporated into theETFE membrane to produce energy to power the LED lights.


Italy, architecture by numbers

“Se non ora, Quando? (If not now, when?)” Protest march, Bologna Italy, February 13th2011. Photo © Mattia Candiotti

Italy has 136,000 registered architects and with a population of 60,221,211 that is one architect for every 442 inhabitants or one architect every 2 square kilometres.

Compare this with Ireland where there is one architect for every 1,648 people or one every 31 km2 and you get a feeling for the challenge of obtaining work here.

And the numbers continue to grow – there are currently 76,041 students studying architecture in Italy, accounting for 37% of all European architecture students.

Over 54,000 Italian architects, or 40%, are women the majority of whom are under the age of 45. In Italy there is a tendency for women to leave the profession around that age as they try to reconcile working with caring for children and elderly parents, very much the responsibility of women in this country.

Architects here have been badly hit by the global economic downturn with most experiencing a drop of over 25% in turnover over the last two years.Surprisingly women architects are weathering the recession relatively well, experiencing 8% less unemployment than their male colleagues.
This gives a glimmer of hope in a country that is ranked 74th by the World Economic Forum for gender equality (Ireland is 6th) and where more young girls aspire to be showgirls than to enter the professions.

Architecture, Research

Public Lectures, Chicago and Milwaulkee

The Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago in partnership with Chicago Women in Architecture, Columbia College Chicago and the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee, invited Elizabeth Francis to give a series of talks and workshops in January 2011.

The series opened with a public lecture at the Museum of Contemporary Art titled “Architecture and the Environment” where Elizabeth Francis discussed how where we live affects our understanding of our environment. She showed examples of integrated design from her work with the firm Mario Cucinella Architects and her current projects under atelier Francis, which incorporate research, architecture and art concluding with reflections on the realities of being a working woman in Italy today.