Spectacular architecture event to capture hearts at Galway Int Arts Festival

architecture event the people build

A spectacular architectural event that has captured the imagination the world over is coming back to this year’s Galway International Arts Festival.

French artist, Olivier Grossetête, will return to Galway with The People Build – which will see hundreds of volunteers creating two large-scale and highly-ambitious structures solely from cardboard.

Encouraging a sense of community whereby the public can get involved, it will take place during the middle weekend of the Festival from July 20-22 and is entirely free.

Following on from the success of his large-scale reconstruction of the Aula Maxima in Eyre Square in 2017, this year Grossetête and his team, together with hundreds of volunteers, will help transform cardboard boxes into not just one, but two structures.

The first is a new cardboard bridge at Waterside, which will be floated out on boats, serving as a testimony to Galway’s River Corrib Viaduct, once part of the famous Galway to Clifden Railway.

A second structure will replicate an iconic Galway building and will be erected on Eyre Square.

Both structures will be assembled on Friday July 20 and Saturday July 21 and as per last year, they will both be demolished the day after on Sunday July 22.

Last year volunteers, children and grown-ups alike joined forces in a massive celebratory demolition, which saw the cardboard building come tumbling down amidst shrieks of joy and delight. One participant said: “We just came along here and next thing this building started to appear. We just picked up a block and before we know it, we’re part of the construction team.”, another said: “It brings people of all ages together. Everyone wants to help and make each other feel like a family.”


Oranmore-based recycling company, Walsh Waste & Recycling, have once again joined forces with Galway International Arts Festival to ensure there is no unnecessary waste following the event; 100% of the cardboard is recycled. They also recycled the cardboard during last year’s build.

It is estimated that almost 4 tonnes of cardboard will be used across the two builds. Once the two structures have been demolished, Walsh Waste & Recycling will be on hand to take away the crushed cardboard to be recycled.


None of this can happen without the enthusiasm and dedication of hundreds of volunteers.  Almost 600 volunteers took part in 2017 and this year members of the public are invited to take part once again. Volunteers are needed to take part in workshops to transform the cardboard boxes into building materials.

Under the supervision of Oliver Grossetête’s team, volunteers will work to ensure each piece of the structure is ready for its debut. The workshops will take place from 13 – 19 July.

The Festival is also looking for volunteers to take part in the construction and demolition of the two builds. The dates are 20 & 21 July for the construction and 22 July for the demolitions.

Click here for more information about the event and to register to volunteer.

This year’s Galway International Arts Festival takes place from July 16-29. Tickets are on sale via www.giaf.ie, by phone on 091 566 577 or in person at the GIAF box office located in the Galway Tourist Office on Forster Street.