Latest from ATelier francis


SHIFTING GROUND – Irish Pavilion for Venice launched in Dublin

Irish architects heneghan peng ‐ have been selected to represent Ireland at the 13th International Architecture Exhibition as part of la Biennale di Venezia this Summer, it was announced by Minister for the Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Jimmy Deenihan TD at the National Gallery of Ireland.

Dublin‐based heneghan peng are currently working in three continents and are the architects responsible for the new Giant’s Causeway Visitors’ Centre in Antrim, a bridge at the London Olympics and the new Museum at the Pyramids in Egypt.


The exhibition in Venice, titled ‘SHIFTING GROUND – Beyond National Architecture’ is one of 55 national pavilions and presents Ireland at one of the most important architectural showcases in the world. At the heart of the exhibit, led for Ireland by Commissioner, Elizabeth Francis with Curator, John McLaughlin, is the idea that contemporary Irish architecture has a global identity, is involved in transnational collaborations and a reputation for world‐class work.


Speaking at the launch Mr. Jimmy Deenihan TD, Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht said: “Ireland is one of the most globalised countries in the world and heneghan peng embodies that in the architectural arena. As an Irish‐based practice currently working across four continents on a wide range of competition‐winning projects, Heneghan Peng epitomizes the impact that Irish architects can make in the world. it is hoped that the Venice Biennale will assist in increased recognition and further success for Irish architecture worldwide.”


The 13th International Architecture Exhibition ‐ la Biennale di Venezia opens to the public on 29 August 2012 and continues until 25 November 2012.



L-R Roisin Heneghan, Elizabeth Francis, John McLaughlin. 



‘Shifting Ground’




Venue: Artiglierie building of the ARSENALE

Dates: Inauguration Monday August 27th 2012 at 5.30pm

Press Preview: 27th – 28th August 2012

Ireland at Venice is an initiative of Culture Ireland in partnership with The Arts Council of Ireland. Supported by Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht and RIAI, The Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland with Arup and Durlum.


Ireland at Venice 2012 on Facebook


The Ireland at Venice Facebook page is now online. Information and updates on the development of the Irish Pavilion for the 13th Architecture Biennale will be posted here. Click here to visit the page Like it and stay informed.


Sound Sculpture Competition

Following on the success of last years sculptural bench competition during the Energia nei Colli festival at Ca-Shin, this year the Cooperativa Le-Ali is looking for ideas for Sound Sculptures. The competition is open to all artists resident in Italy.

The theme is “The Sound of Silence” with respect for the environment. Ideas should be submitted no later than March 30th 2012. Eight artists will be shortlisted and they will create their sculptures in Parco Cavaioni before and during Energia nei Colli 2012 from May 20th to June 12th.

The winner will be selected by a jury led by art critic Valerio Dehò.

Full details can be found on the Ca-Shin website and the brief can be downloaded here.





CURATOR APPOINTED for Ireland at Venice 2012

JOHN McLAUGHLIN has been appointed to act as Ireland’s Curator for the 13th Venice Architecture Biennale 2012.

Ireland at Venice is an initiative of Culture Ireland in partnership with the Arts Council who announced the appointment of the team to represent Ireland at the Architecture Biennale in Venice.

The Commissioner, Elizabeth Francis and Curator, John Mc Laughlin were selected through open competitive processes and have chosen to deliver a presentation on the dynamic Irish practice, heneghan peng architects.


John McLaughlin is a practicing architect who also lectures in architecture in UCC and UCD. His work covers a range of projects integrating architecture with urbanism, landscape and art. He is interested in developing an expanded field for architecture through interdisciplinary work and has collaborated in this with other architects, engineers, landscape designers and visual artists. Before founding his design practice in 2010, John was director of architecture with Dublin Docklands Authority where he directed many groundbreaking projects including the Grand Canal Square development.

He is a graduate of UCD. After college he worked in Paris and London for over a decade on major cultural and civic projects before returning to settle in Ireland in 2003. He has served on many design juries including Europan 10 and the RIAI Silver Medal 2011. He was a member of the advisory panel on the Government Policy on Architecture 2009-2015.


IaV12_Press release on team Feb 2012





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.




Photo by Enrico Sperotti


As part of the Arte Fiera OFF events, Cà-Shin and artists An Cosan Glas presented ALIvoli Umani. Parco Cavaioni was once again animated by the work of artist Billy Wynter who’s illuminated angels descended from the roof of the Cà-Shin villa, a meeting of the spiritual and the terrestrial – perhaps the true balance of life.

The installation was a preview of “Energia nei Colli 2012″

Visual artists An Cosan Glas presented by Elizabeth Francis

Project idea by Architect Francesca Lenzi 

Curated by visuALI


Ireland at the Venice Architecture Biennale 2012

Elizabeth Francis has been appointed to act as Ireland’s Commissioner for the Venice Architecture Biennale in 2012.
Working on behalf of Culture Ireland and the Arts Council, the Commissioner and Curator will
together deliver Ireland’s national representation at the event.


W.I.N Women’s International Networking Conference Rome October 2011

Elizabeth Francis was a featured speaker a this years W.I.N. conference in Rome. The theme of the conference was “Creating History” and her intervention was in the discussion on “The Future of Work”. The conference was opened by Deputy Emma Bonino and was attended by over 950 delegates from
all over the world.


Light Sculptures at Energia nei Colli 2011

Photo © Luca Bertacchi

Environmental Sculpture Trail by visual artists An Cosan Glas bringing the work of 14 Irish artists to Italy by invitation from Cooperativa Le‐Ali. This project was coordinated by atelier Francis and supported by Culture Ireland, the Italian Ministry for the Environment, Bologna Town Council and the Embassy of Ireland in Rome.
From June 3rd to 12th 2011 the event was part of the Parco Cavaioni inaugural
Festival “Energia nei Colli”. Leading up to the opening over two weeks the artists created their sculptures on site and held workshops for adults and children. The light sculptures were powered by the Ri-Ciclo bicycles designed by Francesca Lenzi and Mario Nanni.
The event attracted in all over 2,000 visitors.



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.


ARTE FIERA OFF, Bologna, Italy, January 2010

Irish visual artists Deirdre Brennan, Billy Wynter and Annjo Carr  from An Cosan Glas created and exhibited a lantern sculpture as part of the fringe events at Bologna’s annual Contemporary Art Fair.
The sculpture was connected to the energy producing “ri-ciclo” bicycle designed by Francesca Lenzi and Mario Nanni. The event was coordinated by Elizabeth Francis and hosted by Cinquerosso studio.