It brings everyone together - the return of The People Build

12 July 2018

It won the hearts of Festival audiences in 2017 and now it’s back. French artist, Olivier Grossetête, returns to Galway International Arts Festival with The People Build, a spectacular architectural event that has captured the imagination the world over.

Encouraging a sense of community whereby the public can get involved, The People Build will see hundreds of volunteers creating two large-scale and highly ambitious structures solely from cardboard. 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 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, both will 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.”


For those wondering what will happen to the thousands of cardboard boxes following the demolitions, you’ll be glad to hear that 100% of the cardboard is recycled. 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; they also recycled the cardboard after last year’s event.

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.

Commenting on their involvement this year Managing Director of Walsh Waste, Gerard Walsh said:After last year’s hugely successful The People Build on Eyre Square, we were thrilled to learn it will be returning and happening in two locations this year. This event is so closely aligned with our own business, and with both ours and Galway International Arts Festival’s mutual goal of sustainability. We are really looking forward to helping and participating again this year”.


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.

GIAF 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 People Build and to register to volunteer.