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Consolations of the Landscape

Part 2 Project 2015
Christine Halliday
University of Strathclyde Glasgow UK
Until 1996, residential institutions known as Magdalene Laundries littered the landscape of the Irish Free State, taking their name from Mary Magdalene, Christianity’s exemplar of female reformation and redemption, and from the difficult, punishing laundry work required by women to finance the institutions.

Where Catholic Ireland confined unmarried women to the Magdalene Laundry, married women were similarly confined to the home where they were expected to fulfill roles essential to the proper functioning of the family unit. This peculiarly Irish brand of misogyny, tempered by remnant Catholic guilt, calls for a new approach to how we treat women in the built environment.

The de-normalisation of the abuse of women proceeds slowly, where it proceeds at all.
Utilising the symbolic power of architecture to enhance the importance of this process is a subtle undertaking, requiring a delicate judgment of the balance between the offering of security, beauty and peace that well designed architecture can make, and the presence of that symbolism in the public realm. By making such a proposal so intensively of a particular place and circumstance, ‘Consolations of the Landscape’ offers a view of architecture as part of a healing process, as well as a gentle but insistent criticism.

Christine Halliday


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