• 10 Aug 2020

Architecture at the Edge Open Call: The Boundaries Commissions

Architecture at the Edge is seeking applications from architects and artists for The Boundaries Commission, part of Architecture at the Edge Onsite. Through generous funding from the The Arts Council of Ireland, a number of opportunities are now available for 2020. 

The Boundaries Commission is a collaboration between Architecture at the Edge, Mayo County Council and Galway County Council, its ambition is to create a series of spatial or site specific interventions by architects/ artists in the west of Ireland. Architects/ Artists will be asked to respond to the context of the recent debate around public space. How we do shape the public realm in a post-COVID19 world and who is it for? Responses may include but are not limited to temporary site specific indoor or outdoor works, temporary installations, workshops or online events. 

The commission comes as we are facing profound challenges to civic life. Much of civil society is created from the ‘places between’ - where the boundaries of entry are removed and there is interaction between all communities. Given the necessary isolation for individuals, families, communities and cities, how can we use design to alleviate or improve the physical and psychological contexts and encourage civil and joyous social exchange? Recognising the ‘places between’ as an essential part of social infrastructure can address challenges of isolation, education and social inequality.

AATE invites you to reflect on the nature of thresholds, boundaries and borders at every scale, from the street edge to the geopolitical, from the manifest to the unstated. Consider how they are alternately devices for identity and belonging or exclusion and inequity. You will propose a work that enhances spatial equity along the border of your choosing. 

AATE Director Frank Monahan says of the commissions ‘For the past three years, AATE has opened doors to buildings throughout the west of Ireland , and encouraged citizens to explore their built environment . We have done so because we believe that our towns and cities only truly flourish when they are open to all. We want to empower people to shape their built environment.

AATE will work with the appointed architects/artists and selected communities to create commissions that re-imagine and represents contemporary Ireland and the spaces we inhabit. The exhibition/ installation of the outcomes of the award will be complimented with a programme of ancillary events [ talks / workshop ]  which will investigate various paradigms of ‘boundaries’.

Theme: The Architecture of Boundaries

To live in the west of Ireland is to be surrounded by boundaries, tangible and intangible: structures, infrastructures, coastlines, settlements, field boundaries, town boundaries, village boundaries. Look around the west of Ireland and everywhere you will see the architectural memories and morphology that define us, past and present, and our place in society. We live and work within frameworks, systems and environments, physical, social and cultural, that enmesh us. Boundaries put us in our place. Within this Architects, artists and designers are also propogate boundaries. Shelters, environmental and structural devices are often constructed to provide protective havens and respite from an outside ‘other’. They allow for inhabitation, and are devices from which we have the opportunity to gain perspectives on the wider world. Boundaries serve to provide identity and distinction through varying degrees of closure. The extent of this closure or the permeability of any such condition requires further exploration. This presents us with both a challenge and a risk when designing  and making places that construct and reconstruct collective and personal identities. 

Architecture, artists and designers should seek to shape a built environment that is more at ease with its diversity. Perhaps boundaries are made to be blurred?

Process and Guidelines

Taking the thematic as a starting point, architects/ artists will be asked to develop a project with a specific community in mind that explores their understanding of public and private space.

Timescale and Key dates

  • July – August
  • 27 July 2020 Call for Applications
  • 28 August Closing Date for Applications
  • August- September 2020 
  • Assessement panel review applications 
  • Interviews with the shortlisted applicants (via Zoom)
  • 4 September: Appointment of architects/ artist
  • Site visits, meetings, research and development continue 
  • Design and production 
  • 2 October 
  • Project launch


Three shortlisted architects/ artists will be invited to develop a design concept based on the information laid out in this open call and each will be provided a project budget of € 1500 inc. VAT each. This includes all architect/artist fee  and production costs.

How to apply

Please email the following to architecture.edge@gmail.com by 5pm on the 28 August 2020 and write 'The Boundaries Commission' in the email subject line.

Applications should include the following information: Deadline: 28 August, 2020, 5pm.

  • Artist / Architect CV (max. 2 pages)
  • Project proposal: outline of concept or design, brief description of event or installation to take place, drawings or visuals of project, budget outline. (max. 3 pages)
  • Examples of previous work or projects (max. 5)

We welcome all architects/ artists. Three architects or artists will be chosen. It is expected that you will demonstrate one or more of the following attributes:

1. An interest in the west of Ireland, its culture and heritage

2. An ability to collaborate in your art practice 

3. An ability to deliver public artwork 

Priority will be given to project proposals that re-imagine and represent the built environment in contemporary Ireland and the spaces we inhabit. There is no submission fee. 

About the Boundaries Commission

The Boundaries Commission is part of AATE Onsite, a key element of our programme. In 2018, our curatorial team produced the Irish premier of Ghost Chapel, in collaboration with Galway International Arts Festival and the Bartlett School of Architecture, London. You can view images of the project at #GhostChapel

The theme for the 2020 iteration will be related to ' boundaries'. Physical and intellectual boundaries alter our perception of place and our interaction within these spaces? With this in mind we are planning to invite architects/ artists to engage with selected communities to explore the concept of ideological and imposed notions of boundaries and the impact this has on everyday life.