Change is the Reality: The Work of Robin Walker Architect

Change is the Reality: The Work of Robin Walker Architect, Robin Walker, Patrick Lynch and Simon Walker (editors), Elizabeth Hatz, Tom de Paor, Douglas Carson, Niall McLaughlin and Laura Evans

Clothbound Hardcover Book

"Produced in the same format & size as On Intricacy, Change is the Reality is the second book in our Modern Architecture in Reflection series. It explores the ethos and ideas of Irish architect Robin Walker (1924-1991), a partner in the RIBA Gold Medal winning Dublin practice of Scott Tallon Walker. Produced in concert with Walker's son, the architect and teacher Simon Walker, Change is the Reality is an archive of Robin's articles and lectures, presented alongside new and original photographs of a number of his seminal projects, including Bothar Bui, An Bord Failte, UCD restaurant, house at Kinsale, etc. The book also includes essays by Simon Walker and Patrick Lynch, Elizabeth Hatz and Laura Evans.

Educated at Wesley College in Dublin, and then at UCD, where he later taught, Walker worked for both Le Corbusier in Paris and for Mies van der Rohe in Chicago, before returning to Ireland to help build the new Republic; working on significant civic and cultural projects as well as a number of exemplary private houses. Walker became a Roman Catholic in his later years, and his writing reflects a profound interest in the philosophical and spiritual dimensions of architecture.

Married to the prominent Irish arts administrator Dorothy Walker, the couple's country house designed by Robin overlooking The Kenmare River in West Cork, Bothar Bui, became a salon for many of the major artists and writers of post-war Irish society. Robin Walker is remembered in his friend Seamus Heaney's poem An Architect, published in the collection Spirit Level (1996); and in fact parts of other collections, including Seeing Things (1986), were written in and about the house and its landscape.

Patrick Lynch and Simon Walker presented the house, including a film about the history of Bothar Bui including archival material and new photography by Sue Barr and David Heathcote, in the exhibition The Lives of Spaces in the Irish Pavilion at The Venice Biennale in 2008.

The aim of this publication, and what is becoming the ambition of a series of books published by Canalside Press, is to recover the lost cultural energy of modern architecture, revealing its intellectual depth & artistic urgency; beautiful books about beautiful ideas and buildings, which reveal their reciprocity."

Patrick Lynch (co-editor)

An Architect

He fasted on the doorstep of his gift,
Exacting more, minding the boulder
And the raked zen gravel. But no slouch either

Whever it came to whiskey, whether to
Lash into it or just to lash it out.
Courtly always, and rapt, and astonishing,

Like the day on the beach when he stepped out of his clothes
And waded along beside us in his pelt
Speculating, intelligent and lanky,

Taking things in his Elysian stride,
Talking his way back into sites and truths
The art required and his life came down to:

Blue slate and whitewash, shadow-lines, projections,
Things at once apparent and transparent,
Clean-edged, fine-drawn, drawn-out, redrawn, remembered... .

Exit now, in his tweeds, down an aisle between
Drawing boards as far as the eye can see
To where it can't until he sketches where.

Seamus Heaney (from The Spirit Level, 1996, written in memory of his friend Robin Walker)

Writing in the Irish Arts Review in March 2023, Louise Cotter observed: "Change Is the Reality is an anthology of essays or critical reflections on the work of Robin Walker, a selection of the architect’s own writings and a portfolio of the projects designed by Walker as partner in the well-known practice Scott Tallon Walker Architects, and in a private capacity for his family homes. The book follows on from and includes material from the exhibition ‘A Sense of Place’, curated by his son Simon Walker at the Irish Architectural Archive in 2015, and, in parallel, a film directed by Sé Merry Doyle. The work continues a personal mission for Simon Walker as chronicler of his father’s legacy and is replete with biographical anecdotes about the architect, his family and his friends, who played a prominent role in the artistic and cultural elite of Ireland in the mid-20th century. The family retreat in Bótharbuí figures prominently as a setting for stories and a medium for an alternative language of building, a departure from Walker’s portfolio of classically rational Modernism. The drawings and eloquent photographs of John Donat capture the clarity and rigour of the work without any need for interpretation."

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