Born thanks to a competition launched by the Irish Architecture Foundation to encourage new critical publishing practices in 2013, 2ha is an independent magazine interested in the suburbs and its landscapes. Interview with editor Michael Hayes.
Baron: What’s the story behind 2ha?
Michael Hayes: 2ha magazine began as an entry into a competition run by the Irish Architecture Foundation (IAF). The competition coincided with the arrival of the international Archizines exhibition in Dublin and was organised with the aim of kick-starting an architectural zine-making culture in the city.
This initiative started me thinking about making a magazine as a means of pursuing my own research interests (my final year thesis was on the suburbs) as well gathering content on a subject rarely discussed in Irish media (both mainstream and architectural).
At the time I was working as Assistant Editor with Architecture Ireland and as Editor of the UCD Architecture Yearbook; so publishing was a growing interest of mine and it seemed natural to apply that thinking to other projects.
Following the competition, we set up a crowd-funding campaign on Fundit.ie in order to cover the costs of printing and distribution. It also served as a good way of letting people know about the magazine and building a list of subscribers.
B.: How does that translate to an editorial policy?
M. H.: From those early days the editorial focus of the magazine has shifted somewhat. Initially, there was an ambition to focus on a very particular district in Dublin's suburbs and to connect with this area's inhabitant via the collection and dissemination of information. This quickly proved unsuccessful. The restriction of the location acted as a hindrance in the development of quality content while the local population showed little or no interest in a magazine about their neighbourhood. Quite naturally then, our attention expanded to include the entire Irish suburban condition. As we begin the publication of our second volume of issues, the hope is to broaden this reach further and involve more international contributors.
Our current goal is to engage with architects, artists and academics to disseminate exclusively written or unshared work that both examines and reimagines the spaces which make up our suburban landscapes. To achieve this, each issue is formatted in order to explore the phenomenon of suburbia and its relationship to a particular field of study. So far we've covered subjects such as photography, public space, history, language, and typology. Our aim is to ultimately develop a body of work which may be read individually or as a single piece of investigation.
B.: Why choose print? What kind of paper do you use and why?
M. H.: Print is about adopting creative limitations. Digital space can appear endless, an infinitely updating scroll. Print is a great way to focus the mind and force an editorial line by establishing the restrictions of paper type, page size + number, and print method.
In our case, print has also established a relationship between ourselves and our audience. The magazine is funded on an annual basis through the support of our subscribers. This limits the number of issues we have to organise and dedicate our time towards, and allows a possibly finite end to the project. It is also a great incentive for getting work done and shipping out each issue on time.
We use 55gsm newsprint in a tabloid format as it's relatively cheap and suitable for short, digital print runs.
B.: What has been the readers’ response?
M. H.: The public response can be varied. Generally people are very supportive of the project and are interested in the work we do. We have also been lucky that other media outlets have helped publicise the magazine. The big challenge is convincing someone to actually purchase a copy of the magazine. It can be frustrating at times but ultimately reassuring that there are others who value your work.
B.: Good print mags get a lot of love, but this isn’t always reflected in sales or advertising. How are your sales doing? What is your advertising philosophy?
M. H.: Sales are good and generally vary issue-to-issue. We recently sold-out issue #02 and #03. We don't sell any advertising. The magazine is completely funded by our subscribers and purchasers.
B.: Any upcoming projects?
M. H.: Most of our upcoming projects are a continuation and development of existing ones. We're currently in the process of funding volume two of 2ha magazine. These will include four new issues exploring the relationship between suburbia and cinema, modernism, sport and capital.
One of the original goals of the project was to start a discussion on the ways in which we design and build our suburbs. Since publishing our first issue, 2ha has been selected to take part in the international Archizines exhibition as well as the 100 Archive here in Ireland. We've presented and chatted about all things suburban at festivals, symposia and morning radior. Hopefully this is a conversation that will continue to spread as the magazine develops.