Programme Tracks

As part of CITY LIFE 2017, participants will choose from one of the specialist programme tracks below, and also come together for seminars and workshops around a core theme of Critical Urbanism. This will provide grounding in theoretical approaches to the urban as well as highlighting issues of particular significance to the Irish context.

There may be some changes to track content and availability, and admission to your chosen track is not guaranteed.

(A) Architecture and Landscape

The UCD Architecture International Summer School was inaugurated in July 2015, and this year the team will join with four other tracks for the City Life summer school. The aim is to give an introduction to the architecture, art, design and culture of Dublin City under the theme of City Living. Topics covered will include the archaeology, history, landscape, Georgian and modern architecture and urban design of Dublin, presented by notable academics and practitioners. Students are encouraged to engage in question and answer review sessions with the lecturers.

Students will ‘learn through seeing’ – in particular through the completed buildings of a wide range of award-winning Irish Architects. Building visits will be organised where the project architects explain their work and their approach to design.

Students will also ‘learn through doing.’ A design project entitled City Living will be set, with a series of sites in the Liberties used as a vehicle for this project. Film and blog work will be used to record participants’ work as it develops.

Students are taught how to sketch and record the contextual constraints and opportunities for designing in urban locations. This investigation of life within a city context will examine all aspects of urban residential space.

Student profile
We recommend that prospective students have previously undertaken two semesters of architectural education.

Mornings will comprise a series of talks and walks which will focus on the archaeology, history and architecture of the city, with visits to traditional buildings and exemplars of modern domestic architecture. Afternoons will consist of studio sessions centred around the City Living theme.

The architecture track will revolve around interaction with key practitioners and researchers, including Dublin City Council City Architect Ali Grehan; DCC Senior Planner Kieran Rose; DCC City Heritage Officer Charles Duggan; Director Emeritus of the National Museum of Ireland Dr Pat Wallace; Independent architects Michael Pike, Simon Walker, and Peter Carroll; Derek Tynan Architects, Grafton Architects, Sean Harrington, Sheila O’Donnell and John Tuomey.

(B) Culture, Memory and the City

This strand is intended for participants keen to interrogate the relationship between memory and the city, through psychogeographic and critical writing practices. Daily sessions will explore the imprint and trace of modern Irish historical experience on Dublin’s urban spaces and institutions. Together we will track (and experience) how film, photography, commemoration, ritual, artistic practice and and urban placemaking have intersected with political, social, economic conditions over the past century. Students will be encouraged to formulate a creative and critical response to daily topics the form of a photo essay/blog, piece of critical writing and group presentation.

The aims of this track include:

  • the development of a wide-ranging understanding of how memory is articulated and represented in urban contexts
  • an understanding of the particularity of urban memory in Irish historical and contemporary contexts
  • an exploration of definitions of urban ‘publics’ and the use of memory practices to engage in place-making
  • learning about the history and culture of urban Dublin
  • developing an understanding of the relation between histories of place and contemporary experience

Student Profile
Students are welcome from a range of disciplines, including art history, visual culture, film, history, geography, politics, etc. This strand is particularly suited for participants interested in memory studies, heritage and visual culture. The only pre-requisites are enthusiasm, openness to interdisciplinarity and critical thought, and an interest in art-making, memory and the public.

Themes and critical perspectives will be collectively introduced in a morning taught session, followed by daily site visits that correspond to each session’s focus. Sample sessions (and site visits) include:

  • Institutions, Archives and Memory (National Gallery of Ireland / National Archives)
  • Making and Working: Producing Culture in the City (Temple Bar Gallery & Studios / Francis Bacon Studio, Dublin City Gallery – The Hugh Lane / Project Arts Centre, Temple Bar)
  • Public Monuments and Urban Memories (walking tour of Dublin city public monuments)
  • Film, the City, and Memory: Dublin Onscreen (film viewing in association with the Irish Film Institute, Temple Bar)
  • Photography and the City (Gallery of Photography / National Photographic Archive)
  • Artists as Historians (studio visits to artists based in Dublin city)
  • Commemoration and Collective Memory (Kilmainham Gaol and National War Memorial, Islandbridge)
  • Performing Memory: Ritual and Urban Space (Glasnevin Cemetery / Garden of Remembrance, Parnell Square)

In our final session, student groups will focus on one of the topics that have been covered, with one chosen case-study addressing idea of culture, memory and the city. The task will be to choose an appropriate example of an object, place, image, film or ritual relating to Dublin life as a case study and demonstrate how this represents an aspect of the city’s ‘memory’. The presentation should display an ability to find a suitable focus of enquiry, undertake appropriate research into the subject and its context, and creatively and critically communicate key ideas. This presentation will be accompanied by a second submission which comprises a reflective blog on week-to-week class content and a reading journal, including notes on writing appropriate to the course content.

Students will be given special access and introductions to many of the key cultural institutions in the city, engaging with a diverse group of practicing artists, curators, and historians during our site visits. As Ireland is in the midst of its Decade of Centenaries (with the anniversary of 1916 fast approaching) this strand is particularly topical, and will address many themes central to current national and international debates on memory and urban cultures.

(C) Interaction Design

With a particular focus on interaction design, this programme track will incorporate contributions from Schools and Faculties of Design, Computer Science, and Library and Information Studies. Participants will collaborate to develop fresh design narratives for the city. Through workshops and masterclass sessions participants will develop skills in physical computing. Building off these skills, they will respond to a project brief to design, prototype and evaluate an interaction in a real-world setting. The focus of the strand is on exposure to the field of interaction design and the development of foundation skills in physical computing.

Combining a short but intensive research phase with the prototyping skills developed during workshop and masterclass sessions, participants will create functioning interactions to test a design response to the brief. Participants will engage in early, iterative and rapid prototyping as an integral part of the design process. Solutions can be product, service or installation but must have a physical component that can be prototyped using the skills developed in the early stages of the summer school.

Student profile
As Interaction Design is a multidisciplinary field, this programme track is suitable to people with various backgrounds and interests. It may appeal to candidates with a background in design (product/industrial design, visual communication, architecture, multimedia etc.) and related fields including fine art, media studies, computer science, psychology, humanities, business, and engineering. The hands-on, studio-based track will focus on learning by doing, meaning that prior knowledge of interaction design and physical computing is not required.

The Interaction Design strand focuses on skill development with a project component as the final deliverable. The three weeks of the summer school are structured around the following components:

  • Gaining an insight into the field of Interaction Design
  • Engaging in fieldwork in the city
  • Learning foundation skills in prototyping interactions using techniques including experience prototyping, wizard of oz, video prototyping and physical computing
  • Developing a design and prototype of the interaction
  • Deploying and evaluating the interaction in a real-world context

Through workshops and masterclass sessions, students will develop skills in prototyping interactions using the Arduino platform. Building on these skills, they will respond to a project brief to design, prototype and evaluate an interaction. The focus of the overall project is on exposure to the field of interaction design and the development of foundation skills in physical computing.

Students will learn various aspects of Interaction Design including user-centred design research methods, design synthesis and sensemaking, prototyping techniques and physical computing with the Arduino platform.

(D) Spatial Arts and Visualisation

This track will take a unique perspective on the city’s extensive 1,000 year history, uncovering the hidden, the lost and the forgotten. Over a three week programme and with the support of expert staff and technicians, students will work to explore, develop and disseminate online and as part of a final group exhibition. They will report their discoveries through visual storytelling using media such as photography, film/animation, 3D-modelling and other visualization techniques.

Student profile
This track of the summer school is interdisciplinary, but would best suit students who wish to explore and develop their spatial, temporal and critical visualization skills. Relevant programs include: art, architecture, urban design, planning, landscape architecture, geography, archaeology etc. A laptop, digital camera and good computer skills are necessary to take part in this course.

The Spatial Arts and Visualization track will focus on engaging critically and experimenting with current and emerging spatial and temporal visualization methods. Over the three weeks, as we explore and visualize forgotten and hidden aspects of Dublin, students will receive masterclasses and workshops in current spatial and temporal visualization methods, and have group discussions with skilled practitioners currently working to develop new and existing methods of visualization. The explorations and experimental visualisations of Dublin will form a group exhibition at the end of the summer school.

In week one, we will engage with the city – exploring hidden aspects of the city on foot and by city bike. We will visit and discuss relevant visualization projects and methods and record and reflect on what we have found.

In week two, we will develop ideas and methods to visualize these hidden aspects of Dublin for the group exhibition. There will be masterclasses in and critical discussions of spatial and temporal visualization methods so that each student can explore and experiment with visualization methods while engaging critically with the field.

In week three, we will further develop the work into a group exhibition that visualizes aspects of hidden or forgotten Dublin and displays the experiments, discoveries and discussions had along the way.

Exposure to and critical engagement with current and emerging spatial and temporal visualization techniques and their dissemination. (eg: computational photography, film and animation, immersive visualization, augmented reality, gaming techniques, digital surveying, and point cloud technologies)

(E) Researching Urban Design and Material Culture

This track will utilise design analysis, architectural history and material culture methods to explore the development, planning, architecture and everyday experience of Dublin in its historical and contemporary manifestations. It will combine site visits, workshops, fieldwork and seminars focused around the material analysis of the city to arrive at an understanding of specific morphologies, design and everyday practices in the city over time. Working with a range of experts including architectural historians, urban designers and city planners, indicative sessions will address foundational myths and archaeological traces, planning and agency, dwellings over time, the ethnography of a street, materials and globalisation, uses and misuses of space. Participants will work on case studies over the three weeks of the summer school, culminating in a range of outputs.

Student profile
This track will appeal to prospective students interested in objects, spaces, design and architecture.

The three weeks will be based around a series of site visits, intensive master classes and seminars. These will be structured around in-depth site analysis of specific buildings to more general reading of urban and spatial history and theory. Students will work on their own writing projects, which will be addressed through a series of research and writing workshops.

Urban analysis – building and street case studies
Object analysis – writing material culture
Research methods