Ian Ritchie Architects

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Monument, Memorial and Epitaph

The Spire of Dublin is a monument.
It takes account of the history of the Irish people and the history of the site.
It makes a statement about the future through its physical expression of reaching for the sky. It is optimistic.
It attempts to respond physically to its context by allowing natural and artificial light to be absorbed and reflected from its surface.
As a 3D spiral form with a vertical emphasis, upon a 2D spiral plate with a horizontal emphasis, it suggests expansiveness and continuity from its past to its future.

Memorials are also fundamentally about expressing a relationship between past and present. Because memorials are intended to eternalise an event, they have to look forward as well as back to the event. Epitaphs, in contrast, are only concerned with reminding us of the past.

The Spire of Dublin has to achieve more than a memorial or epitaph ­ in the sense that it is not eternalising a single event, nor solely reminding us of something in the past.

In considering the role of monuments in the modern era, I was drawn to the conclusion that they have to be optimistic, to convey a sense of togetherness and of hope. It was not simply a gestural approach of creating an iconic image.

The combination of the Irish diaspora, and their individual creativity, together with a desire to capture something essentially Irish and located in Ireland ­ which was for me its ever-changing skies ­ and the optimism that seemed to abound in the Irish capital at the dawn of the third millennium produced the Spire of Dublin.

Designing a monument that reflected too closely the memory of its precedent is not for me an act of memory or of monument, but a rather disturbing nostalgic response which is surely an inappropriate message to the future of the Irish people.

© Ian Ritchie, September 2002