Design Brief

Design Brief

Design Brief

Public Art Competition - Sculpture in a Garden Setting

This competition seeks to elicit the most creative and outstanding proposal for this Public Art project. The second stage of this competition is seeking the submission of designs for a Sculpture in a Garden Setting that will fulfil the requirements as set out in this brief. While there are no pre-conceived ideas regarding the design or content and applicants are free to choose any medium for its expression, an original sculpture as a stand-alone installation or a sculpture group is required to be part of the proposal.

Stage 2 proposals should include sufficient detail, description and illustrations to communicate the concept, form and medium of the sculpture in a garden setting to assist the selection jury to understand and visualise the proposal.

The site chosen as the location of the Sculpture within the grounds of Áras an Uachtaráin can be viewed below. The Sculpture in a garden setting should be wholly contained within the defined area but need not use the entire area. Photographs of the proposed area can be viewed below. A video of the site can be viewed on-line here.

Stage 2 is subject to restricted invitation. No fees will be paid to applicants for entering Stage 2 of the competition.

All Applicants are asked to note the following:

  • The Sculpture in a Garden Setting should convey the magnitude of the achievements and sacrifices of those who worked for Irish self determination and the creation of the Republic It should inspire reflection on the realisation of the vision they had for Ireland.
  • The Sculpture in a Garden Setting should have physical, emotional and sensory dimensions. It should provide stimulation of the imagination and promote contemplation and reflection.
  • The Sculpture in a Garden Setting should inspire and inform visitors in ways expressive of the events, people and ideas recalled.
  • The Sculpture in a Garden Setting must be capable of being accessed by those with mobility impairments.
  • Applicants are free to propose sculpture in a setting of any dimension within the area outlined in the appendix.
  • The design of the Sculpture in a Garden Setting must be distinctive and compelling, with cultural value for the benefit of future generations. It must remain inspiring and relevant with the passing of time.
  • The overall size and shape of the design of the sculpture, its garden setting and all of its landscape components are important in the context of the historic grounds of Áras an Uachtaráin, and must be in harmony with its setting.
  • Living and inanimate elements and materials proposed within the design must be sustainable, easily maintained, long lasting and appropriate to the setting. Any maintenance requirements should be carefully considered in the shape and form of the sculpture and garden design.
  • Applicants should be mindful of the ecological setting of the sculpture and garden within Áras an Uachtaráin and the Phoenix Park and designs should be sympathetic to the ecological health of its surroundings.
  • The soil on the site is alkaline, of a grey brown podzolic type, which is moderately well drained. i.e. a clay loam type soil.
  • Proposals must include a suitable name and narrative for the sculpture and garden design.

Applications for stage 2 will be assessed on the following criteria

A.   Compliance with the brief

B.   Quality of concept and design

C.   Historic, contemporary and future resonance.

D.   Appropriateness of design within its environmental context

E.    Deliverability, including within budget.

Budget for Sculpture in a Garden Setting

A total Budget of €145,000 (including VAT) is available for this Public Art project. As the sculpture is the central element of the project, it would be expected that the majority of the budget will be used for that element. All costs or fees necessary for the completion of the project must be met from this budget.


A submission fee of €2,000 will be paid to each of the five shortlisted Competitors on receipt of Stage 3 submissions that meet the Competition requirements. In addition, an award of €5,000 will be made for the chosen design. The winner will be asked to enter into a contractual agreement with the Office of the President to finalise and install the Sculpture in a Garden Setting. Applicants must meet their own costs in regard to the site visit to Áras an Uachtaráin.

Application Requirements / Terms and Conditions

  • Applications must be made on-line and must include the following information:
    • Title of Artwork.
    • A short statement to contain the Conceptual response to the brief (Max 500 words);(2 A4 Pages)
    • Sketches or illustrations to assist Jury to visualise what is being proposed; (this should be limited to 3 A3 pages in hard copy or digital format.- JPEG RGB, minimum of 300dpi resolution and 150x150mm (document size) or 1772x1772 pixels in size.) ;
    • Details of all materials proposed to be used in sculpture, including landscaping elements, if appropriate;
    • An elemental cost plan with estimation of all costs associated with the design, construction and installation of the proposed structure;
    • Estimated timetable for completion of artwork and installation.  
    • A short C.V. 
  • The competition languages are English or Irish.
  • Incomplete submissions will not be considered.
  • Submissions will not be returned.
  • No information contained in submissions shall be deemed confidential and such information may be shared or displayed.
  • Competition entries may be submitted by e-mail or by post and must be received by 18 March 2016.
  • The competition is open to invited artists only, but they will be permitted to invite others to work with them in their proposals for executing the project. These individuals should be identified in the proposal.
  • Invited Applicants may be based in Ireland or abroad.
  • Invited Applicants may make only one proposal and any person may only be associated with one application. Multiple applications involving the same person will result in all such applications being deemed ineligible.
  • The decision of the Selection Jury is final.
  • Canvassing will disqualify.
  • The applicant shall retain copyright of their design proposal and be acknowledged in all publications and use by the Office of the President.
  • Those shortlisted for Stage 3 and those not shortlisted will be notified directly by the Office of the President.  


The purpose of the Competition is to commission a Sculpture in a Garden Setting that appropriately and respectfully commemorates Ireland’s journey towards self determination, the creation of the Irish Republic and the realisation of republican ideals in contemporary and future generations.  

The Competition is being organised on a three-stage basis.

Stage 1 comprises an invitation from the President, Michael D. Higgins and Sabina Higgins to a number of individuals to participate in the competition. Those invited are being given three weeks to accept the invitation and to indicate that they will participate in the competition. Responses should be by post or e-mail to the addresses at the end of this page. Those who choose to decline the invitation or who do not respond by 15 January 2016, will not participate in the later stages. All those accepting the invitation to participate will be invited to Áras an Uachtaráin to visit the proposed location of the Sculpture.

Stage 2 comprises the submission of a detailed concept/approach by applicant(s). The nature of the Sculpture and its components and the medium and format through which it is to be delivered are open to the suggestions of the applicant.. A Competition Jury, assisted by a Technical Advisory Group, will select a maximum of 5 applications to be shortlisted to proceed to Stage 3. The Stage 2 Competition brief is below.

Stage 3 The shortlisted applicants will be required to submit their detailed and specific proposals for each stage of the design, planning and realisation of the Sculpture in a garden setting with detailed costings and mechanisms for realisation, as required by the Stage 3 briefing documents, which will be provided to those shortlisted.

A submission fee of €2,000 will be paid to the shortlisted Competitors on receipt of Stage 3 submissions that meet the Competition requirements. The Jury, assisted by the Technical Advisory Group, will meet to evaluate the Stage 3 submissions using the evaluation criteria for Stage 3 of the competition. The jury will adjudicate between the 5 finalists and arrive at a decision as to the preferred design. The winning applicant will be invited to construct and install the sculpture within the budget and within agreed timelines. The winning applicant will also be awarded €5000.

Shortlisted Applicants will be required to provide evidence of tax compliance as part of their Stage 3 submission.

Competition Organisation

The Competition is being organised and administered by the Office of the President of Ireland. All queries in respect of the Competition should be addressed in writing to:

[email protected] or

Sculpture in a Garden Setting Competition

Áras an Uachtaráin.

Phoenix Park

Dublin 8.