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Architecture at the Edge

Deadline: 8 March 2021

Architecture at the Edge a new outreach project in collaboration with Matt + Fiona is looking for creative and engaging architects, artists and designers to participate in Design Lab 2021 / a space for belonging.

Join this exciting initiative to empower the next generation to develop their ideas for the future of the local area.

Through Design Lab, you will enable them to develop ideas for a ‘Space for Belonging’ – with AATE and MATT+FIONA’s support. The initiative will involve training, facilitating creative workshops and joining an ambitious ‘Proto-Build’. Starting in April 2021 and culminating with the ‘Proto-Build’ in Autunm 2021, Design Lab is a great opportunity to share your knowledge and creativity with young people and teachers in a fun and engaging way.

If you have good communication skills and are looking for exciting ways to expand your practice, AATE would love to hear from you!

Deadline for applications is Monday 08 March at 12noon.

To apply, please email a completed application form and CV to architecture.edge@gmail.com

Supported by the Arts Council’s Capacity Building Support Scheme.

For further information and application details go to www.architectureattheedge.com/opencall2021

Irish Architecture Foundation

The IAF have produced an online resource ‘DIYStudio’ for teachers and secondary school students.

DIYStudio introduces you to architecture and is perfect for secondary schools students who might be curious about the process of design. Follow the five stages – Explore, Research, Design, Present, Reflect to design your own architectural space, learning and experimenting along the way. All you need to get started is internet access, paper and a pencil.

Students can start and finish anytime, DIYStudio is an ongoing project.

For further information go to architecturefoundation.ie/event/diystudio/

If you have any questions please email learning@architecturefoundation.ie

Irish Architecture Foundation (IAF)

Dates: 8 – 11 October 

This years Open House Dublin from the Irish Architecture Foundation is set to take place on the weekend of 8 – 11 October. This year’s event will differ from previous years with a strong focus on online and digital events.

Open House Junior is a programme of workshops and activities for children and young people, with highlights including a Digital Design Challenge, and virtual workshops hosted by the Chester Beatty Library, Irish Museum of Modern Art, National Gallery of Ireland, Fighting Words and others.

With self-guided family ‘Architreks’ and ‘Make your own’ building templates from O’Mahony Pike Architects.

For more detail and bookings go to openhousedublin.com/whats-on/strands/open-house-junior/

Irish Architecture Foundation

Deadline: Friday 19 June 2020

The Irish Architecture Foundation are delighted to announce that applications are open for the 2020/21 Architects in Schools programme.

The Architects in Schools initiative for Transition Year students places architects and architectural graduates in schools across Ireland. Students learn how to research, design and communicate architectural ideas, always reimagining the spaces around them and sometimes even affecting change in their local built environment.

Check out Architect Frank Monahan’s guest blog series here on the Portal about his experience on the initiative.

For further information and to apply go to https://architecturefoundation.ie/news/architects-in-schools-2020-2021-open-call-for-schools/. 

Or email learning@architecturefoundation.ie for queries.

Closing date Friday 19 June

Frank is an Irish designer /cultural producer with an interest in film, the arts & architecture. His professional practice includes the design of buildings, & set design for film/television production. He holds a BA in Architecture, 2008 and a Professional Diploma in Architecture, 2012 both from London Metropolitan University. Prior to this he recieved a B.Des. in Production Design for Film/Television, from IADT. This background has informed his approach to practice, which is collaborative, interdisciplinary and site specific.Interested in the critical potential of design he established Architecture at the Edge in 2017, for which he devised and curated the events programme. He produced an outdoor installation, ‘Ghost Chapel’ for Galway International Arts Festival 2018 in collaboration with the Bartlett School of Architecture.

Growing our Connections – Blog 4

Having taught the National Architects in Schools Initiative for the past three years I find it can still be quite a daunting task when faced with a new group of students.

Many of the students don’t understand the value of their built environment because they have never seen the benefits it can offer them.

It’s difficult for students to learn without experiencing connections as to the concepts we teach them. This can be achieved through providing both context and relevance. Without that connection there is no interest, and interest always precedes meaningful and authentic learning. So it’s essential that we are making strong learning connections to help them develop the thinking habits they need to succeed.

Schools are comprised of the people in the community. Coming from outside it’s important to understand the community your students are a part of. Mountbellew is a quiet rural market town 45km from Galway on the N63 to Roscommon. Once the home of the Grattan-Bellew family, famous Galway parliamentarians during the 18th and 19th centuries. The former demesne is now a delightful wooded area of forest walks and picnic areas, filled with interesting historical items.

Upon my first visit to Mountbellew, whilst seeking out a connection to the place, I was drawn down an inviting avenue of beech trees where I was immediately taken by the sight of a 7m high wall, the enclosure to an extensive eighteenth century Walled Garden which was once part of the large Bellew estate.  For a century and a half this walled garden was used in the manner of all such Victorian/Edwardian gardens, although simply because of its size, more than household fruit and vegetables were probably grown.

I learned that the long term aim of the local heritage group here is to rejuvenate, conserve and develop the 18th century walled garden. Developing this existing heritage resource will provide a new amenity for the area. It will also complement other local heritage and recreation assets helping attract visitors to the area stimulating rural tourism.

From the outset I knew it was important to set a clear and engaging agenda with the students and so by way of introduction find something in their common experiences to which the lesson can be attached. Here in the walled garden is a space to explore, walk, discover and feel inspired by all it has to offer; a reminder that as times change natures story goes on. To function as a place to grow food, for pleasure and wellbeing.

Before we launched into making any propositions it was important to give time to the students and allow them articulate their ideas. Topics were selected for the students to share in groups. Investigation into the history and functions of various types of garden generated one starting point for beginning transformational change such as should its use be as a kitchen garden distinct from a decorative one. The many ways we experience gardens were discussed. The pleasure garden, the kitchen garden, the memorial garden and/or as a place to re-connect with nature. A presentation by the local heritage group committee members was followed the following week with a guided site visit.

In speculating on its potential one of the students reminded us that the parents of Anna Kriegel had planted a white cherry blossom at her favorite spot and unveiled a bench which bears an inscription with her name. Another then talked of the seat under a tree at the Mountbellew walled garden which ladies once sat how they might propose to do the same. The sense of a connection to place and how that can relate to our own experience of the world underpinned the project. This is about learning how everything is interconnected and interdependent. Understanding the relationship between things can help people see and understand their community in different ways. That association with people and place is fundamental.

Students learn by exposure to real life examples and their experiences and observations of these examples greatly accelerates their learning. Part of this task required the students to ‘Look Locally’ i.e. Find clear links between the lessons and the things that are transpiring in the local community, and even get them actively involved with community individuals. It’s about teaching and learning that is focused on student centered inquiry.

A second field trip was organized, with a group assigned to conduct an on-site survey which would inform the task of making of a 1:100 site model.

Making the model allowed the re-imaging of the walled garden to take shape. The resulting design links a series of new public spaces/ rooms and reuses an existing building as a community hub / cafe to give purpose and a variety of gathering places to the center of garden.

The aim here was to create space for every young person to be at the center of co-designing their own future, community spaces, projects and campaigns. To give voice of the student and allow them give that voice back to their community.

In working with the students like this I hope that it will stimulate them to become actively involved and engaged in shaping their local built environments and landscapes. Place-based education promotes learning that is rooted in what is local—the unique history, environment, culture, economy, literature, and art of a particular place—and it promotes a place-specific, sustainable approach to living, working and playing in our 21st century rural communities. The main objective is to attract interest and support from the community at large and to help re-educate ourselves about the importance of sustainable and healthy living.

Young people need a space where they can be unafraid to explore. As a result, the sense of place created by a village’s cultural heritage links directly to a community’s sense of identity, which can ultimately enhance people’s overall sense of being and belonging and quality of life. The walled garden at Mountbellew offers this. They need to live it, grow with it, tend to it. For them, it can be a space of hope and promise:  if we put in the right effort and intention just about growing our connection to nature, it is essentially growing our connection to each other.

Frank is an Irish designer /cultural producer with an interest in film, the arts & architecture. His professional practice includes the design of buildings, & set design for film/television production. He holds a BA in Architecture, 2008 and a Professional Diploma in Architecture, 2012 both from London Metropolitan University. Prior to this he recieved a B.Des. in Production Design for Film/Television, from IADT. This background has informed his approach to practice, which is collaborative, interdisciplinary and site specific.Interested in the critical potential of design he established Architecture at the Edge in 2017, for which he devised and curated the events programme. He produced an outdoor installation, ‘Ghost Chapel’ for Galway International Arts Festival 2018 in collaboration with the Bartlett School of Architecture.

 

Learning from the power of place – Blog 3

“I walk because it confers- or restores- a feeling of placeness …I walk because, somehow, it’s like reading …” 

Lauren Elkin, Flâneuse: Women Walk the City in Paris, New York, Tokyo, Venice and London

Charles Baudelaire and Walter Benjamin wrote a while ago about the modern man, who walked the city in order to explore its history, the architecture, the changing environment.

That idea of exploring and thinking is about making sense of things, the places and people we encounter, and this approach can also be applied to adolescence children in their world, by interacting, investigating, questioning, and forming, testing and refining their ideas.

Place-based education promotes learning that is rooted in what is local— the unique local history, environment, economy, culture, landscapes, and architecture of a particular place – in mapping the students’ own “place” or immediate schoolyard, neighborhood, town or community. And walking is like mapping with your feet.  It can promote a place-specific, sustainable approach to living, working and playing for all.

Following an introduction to the IAF Architects in Schools Programme to the TY students at St. Raphael’s College, Loughrea we started by asking the students a little about the town, the whereabouts of where they live and by what means had they travelled to the school that day. I wanted to find out about their lived experience and connection to the place. From this informal survey it soon became clear that the majority lived in either peripheralhousing estates or ribbon development on the towns fringes – the exception a few living on farm settlements in the environs of the county side. Not one it seemed lived within the town itself. I suggested walking the town together would allow us to stop – take a detour – and explore the form of that built environment.

Finding a historic street map from the local library and placing a glass, rim down, onto the map, we drew round its edge. We then instructed the students to pick up the map, go out into the town, and walk the circle, and keeping as close as they can to the curve, record their observations. This also helped them to get an idea of where we were in the context of the place.  Loughrea town is compact and so in short, the walk would show us all the key places in the town, and help us see some hidden gems in the process. By walking  – not only do you get great exercise –  you won’t miss details and you’re much more likely to go in different buildings, squeeze down alleyways, etc.

Loughrea lies at a number of boundaries, both historic and geographic and its pattern and form of development has been shaped by these features at the various stages of its development. The lake and medieval moate are wonderful but one could easily pass through Loughrea without noticing either. Its existing street plan closely follows that of a medieval layout. Many tall narrow properties on either side of the Main Street occupy burgage plots laid out in the 13th century.

The Temperance Hall / Barracks road complex is a palimpsest in which the layered history of Loughrea is revealed. Signs of the walled town, the original Gate House and successive military occupations are evident at even a quick glance. Behind the Temperance Hall, built c1780s as a Cavalry Barracks, we found a complex of buildings enclosed by fragments of a defensive wall. The site backed up to the lake with picturesque views out to the crannogs and surrounding landscape beyond. Student research later revealed the arrangement had once also included a hospital, infirmary and forge. Part currently provides social, cultural and educational services for the people of the town. This was the chosen site for the student’s design project. One of the first tasks we set in carrying out the survey was to photograph and to draw these buildings.

The aim, to adapt the assembly of buildings and introduce / incorporate new housing typologies into it to form a new ‘piece of town’. One that faced the lake but which also utilized the existing network of lanes which connect back from here into the town proper. The project was somehow about revitalizing this forgotten space, repopulating it and in so doing, assist in remedying the vacancy seen in the adjacent streets at the town center.

Adopting this strategy, the workshops which followed were designed to place the student at the center of this process, and resulted in propositions for a new linear public park, a café on the crannog and a new mixed residential community. All this, a clear demonstration for the potential of architecture to enhance the experience of living and working in the 21st century Irish town, coming from the students themselves.

It goes to show that if we start with small steps …. to support novice viewers become more observant and more thoughtful about what they are looking at then this can empower them to present an alternative vision for their existing built environment. It is so vital that our towns are living vibrant places, of social and cultural exchange, community and interactions and so they must be constantly maintained as adaptive changing entities.

We see that legacy of bad planning in towns like Loughrea. It’s one symptomatic of the challenges facing many small communities in Ireland – contradictory forces in the commercial landscape due to changing consumer behavior patterns, with resultant accepted sprawl of housing leading to vehicular predominance, and the changing demographics  – have pulled and shaped the town, and continue to do so resulting in increased vacancy at its core. In the context of climate change walkable and compact small towns have so much to offer us. The aim must be to shift the narrative from ‘conserving’ or ‘preserving’ small town settlements to ‘re-thinking’ and ‘championing’ them.

The students demonstrated an understanding of how these challenges faced by smaller communities can be overcome through sensitivity, creativity, collaboration and long-term stewardship. The projects demonstrate the possibilities of working in historic fabrics, re-connecting town centers to their surroundings and integrating a mix of uses into town centers. They arrived at a way of living which might suggest a more flexible approach to the town plot. It’s about creating a learning experiences that leverage the power of place. In fostering students’ connection to place, help their understanding of where they live and how taking action in their own backyards helps to take care of the world around them.

 

 

 

Frank is an Irish-born designer /cultural producer with an interest in film, architecture & the arts, design and technology. An honors graduate in Production Design for Film, TV and theatre, he spent the best part of a decade in this sector. Coming from a film and set design background, he has always been passionate about the power of buildings and spaces to tell stories and he developed this interest further when he later moved into interior and architectural design work setting up practice in London in 2001. This experience led to a decision to study architecture at London Metropolitan University where he was awarded an BA Honors’ Architecture in 2008 and a Professional Diploma in Architecture 2012.


His professional practice includes the design of buildings & set design for film and television production. This has informed his approach to practice, which is collaborative, interdisciplinary and site-specific. With a long term interest in the critical potential of design he established the Architecture at the Edge Festival in 2017, for which he devised and developed the events programme through all stages: planning, development and administration, including the curation and production of an annual symposium on Placemaking  & associated workshops. He recently produced an outdoor built installation, ‘Ghost Chapel’ for Galway International Arts Festival 2018 in collaboration with Bartlett School of Architecture.

Cities Need Old Buildings – Blog 2

‘Cities need old buildings so badly it is probably impossible for vigorous streets and districts to grow without them…. for really new ideas of any kind—no matter how ultimately profitable or otherwise successful some of them might prove to be—there is no leeway for such chancy trial, error and experimentation in the high-overhead economy of new construction. Old ideas can sometimes use new buildings. New ideas must use old buildings.’

From; The Death and Life of Great American Cities , Jane Jacobs

In my last blog I described how we extended the Irish Architecture Foundation (IAF) – Architects in Schools learning programme at The Bish into engagement beyond the school gate. Incorporating urban sketching on Nuns Island and other activities within the workshop itinerary in an attempt to encourage and allow the students an opportunity to examine their city from another perspective … to be creative. To be imaginative.

With the school located on part of the under-utilized parcel of land at the edge of Galway City center, the regeneration of Nuns Island lands need careful and detailed consideration it being directly between the City and NUI Galway it easily facilitates an expansion of the University campus or an expansion of the City creating a civic space to carefully bring both City and University together. NUI Galway and Galway City Council recently launched a public consultation for this very purpose. The aim here is to transform Nuns’ Island into a new quarter that will enable the city to capitalize on its creativity, enterprise and quality of life. The masterplan is being prepared by internationally-renowned planners BDP, business strategy advisors Colliers International and quantity surveyors AECOM. It is supported by the Government’s Urban Regeneration Development Fund. Focusing on this regeneration of Nuns Island we were delighted that Gareth McGuire, Architect Director BDP agreed to lead the students on a mapping exercise.

So we took a walk through their Island, mapping the existing spaces and their functions, recording the grain of the place and also seeking out opportunities for future interventions.

Amongst the key programmatic functions identified by the students in this process a number of themes evolved;

Amongst these functions one of the activities identified by the students is the sight every July of the Big Blue Tent at Fisheries Field, erected for the duration of GIAF Arts Festival. It’s a signifier of the festival status which is core to the public life of the city and a landmark for the summer. We discussed with the students about this ‘creative arts entertainment’ intervention and the potential for other spaces on the island, such as the old derelict Persse’s Distillery Building for adaptive reuse purposes. What might those buildings and spaces become? Student accommodation? With the meeting of ‘Town and Gown’ perhaps a shared library building for the city would be useful? Or a new Distillery? A Contemporary Art Gallery? Co-working spaces to foster a creative community? The students could quite readily foresee that in the creative use of these spaces lies the key to regeneration for the entire masterplan.

GIAF Big Top

GIAF Big Top

During the process I was reminded of a famous line from the late great urbanist Jane Jacobs: “New ideas must use old buildings.” So how to interpret and translate that into a way which might allow the students to engage directly in the process of reimaging Nuns Island?

Attending the Galway International Arts Festival 2019 programme launch last Thursday, the Artistic Director Paul Fahy, referred to the lack of cultural infrastructure in the city, reaffirming the festivals need to ‘Adapt old spaces and turn them into something new … ’he announced that as in previous years having utilized the former Connacht Tribune Printworks for the Festival Gallery, and this now being is no longer available, (again its being repurposed but now as an indoor food market),  GIAF is out of necessity appropriating and re-adapting the old GPO Sorting Office for the Festival Gallery 2019. Situated just off William street this building is just one other city center site which has lain vacant and idle for many years. Out of sight and just screaming for rejuvenation!!

The GIAF festival have always been the cultural pioneers in this city whom out of necessity occupy overlooked and abandoned spaces and transform them into vibrant active places. They understood that a former printing works, or an GPO sorting office can accommodate exactly the kind of framework needed for a creative hub /district. Both examples demonstrate a pragmatic response, creating flexible public buildings that give scope for further development. That kind of loose-fit re-apportion of space does not dictate how it should be used, the potential for revival is already there in the infrastructure and Galway has the cultural riches to attract people in the first place. It’s a matter of turning it to the right purpose. To look at the seeming familiar from another perspective …

As Architects we are often challenged to respond to these kinds of circumstances by conceiving new ideas for the design or re-design of existing spaces. In this process architects can become both activist and educator, championing the cause and helping to galvanize the support of the local community.

This was the approach taken with the students at the Bish. Bringing the class out into the town to explore and experience spaces and familiar places on their door step. To invite them to contribute and make decisions on what buildings or spaces they would like to create in their own local area. You could sense the excitement among the student participants in engaging as stakeholders themselves in that process which shapes their environment, in opening up new ways of looking and engaging with the world, and just perhaps pathways to creative careers as master planners or cultural pioneers for a few.

Irish Architecture Foundation

Deadline Date: Friday 31 May 2019

Applications are now open for schools to participate in the Irish Architecture Foundation’s Architects in Schools 2019/20 initiative. An initiative aiming to encourage collaboration between architects and teachers, giving Transition Year students a hands-on design experience.

Now in its seventh year, Architects in Schools has been delivered in over 80 schools nationwide to date, with students exploring how design and architecture affect their school and local environment, learning a range of skills and gaining insight into a range of career options. The initiative begins with a skills sharing day for all participating teachers and architects in late September, projects/workshops are delivered in classrooms in terms 1 and/or 2 and the initiative culminates with a national exhibition in mid April.

Places on the initiative are limited to 30 schools per year, and the IAF selects schools through an application process, aiming for a broad geographic spread, a mix of school types and a balance between new and returning schools. To give your school the best chance of participating, apply online by Friday 31 May.

For more information, visit the IAF website at architecturefoundation.ie/ news/architects-in-schools- 2019-20-open-for-school- applications/

To apply online go to  https://docs.google. com/forms/d/e/ 1FAIpQLSf9ZICqLfJ- CdcHVH8buyWLfdpNk1LyixWF7FS7CW XUrJEenw/viewform

Frank is an Irish-born designer /cultural producer with an interest in film, architecture & the arts, design and technology. An honors graduate in Production Design for Film, TV and theatre, he spent the best part of a decade in this sector. Coming from a film and set design background, he has always been passionate about the power of buildings and spaces to tell stories and he developed this interest further when he later moved into interior and architectural design work setting up practice in London in 2001. This experience led to a decision to study architecture at London Metropolitan University where he was awarded an BA Honors’ Architecture in 2008 and a Professional Diploma in Architecture 2012.


His professional practice includes the design of buildings & set design for film and television production. This has informed his approach to practice, which is collaborative, interdisciplinary and site-specific. With a long term interest in the critical potential of design he established the Architecture at the Edge Festival in 2017, for which he devised and developed the events programme through all stages: planning, development and administration, including the curation and production of an annual symposium on Placemaking  & associated workshops. He recently produced an outdoor built installation, ‘Ghost Chapel’ for Galway International Arts Festival 2018 in collaboration with Bartlett School of Architecture.

Threshold – Blog 1

TY students from schools around the country completed their IAF Architects in Schools project this month with a presentation at GMIT’s Cluain Mhuire campus to IAF, GMIT staff and Architect Dermot Bannon. Devised and delivered by the Irish Architecture Foundation, this initiative provides students with first-hand experience of the design process under the guidance of design professionals.

This was my third year participating in the programme, and alongside architect Sybil Curley returning to my alma mater at St. Josephs College, ‘the Bish’, Galway we undertook to deliver a series of workshops which might allow the students to develop their visual spatial skills. Art is not taught as part of the curriculum at the school, so it was important that we find a way to allow the students the opportunity to express their inherent creativity. The teacher was keen for us to assist the students to work on design concept development that would prepare them for Design Communication and Graphics (DCG) subject challenges. To this aim, prompting visual research was very important as it helped the students investigate that process. Taking steps to intentionally address any lack of confidence in their own creativity the students surveyed areas of the school and recorded observations on materials, light levels, circulation etc. Critical thinking and visual awareness was encouraged throughout the course.  Exploratory site visits further increased the students’ visual vocabulary and ability to convey design concepts through sketching.

In the first year we explored the idea of ‘Threshold’ in creating an aedicule, between the school institution and the city. There are plans to relocate the school away from Nuns Island and out of the city to a new site in the coming years so the idea was to think about designing a ‘gateway’ into the new institution. Starting with an exercise to create their own school motto to place above the entrance to the existing school building we brought the students out to sketch the Spanish Arch and other historical approach’s to the city. Following mapping exercises of the schools existing entrances and reception areas as well documenting the access roads/bridges onto the Island in which the school is located the students constructed a 1:100 physical model of the school upon which they could place designs of their own ‘aedicule’ interventions.

The following year we continued this exploration of that kind of creative flexibility which extended into how we can engage with the city beyond the school. Inspired by dePaor Architects refurbishment of Druid theatre, the students reimagined the adaptive reuse of their existing school building, turning it towards the river, and incorporating the adjacent Nuns Island Theatre into the schools buildings programme.  Careful consideration was made to how best retain the character of this building, a former Methodist Church repurposed as an arts venue, and how this might give greater flexibility for improvements throughout the entire schools built infrastructure.

The design brief encouraged them to practice a culture of sustainability in our built environment through adaptive reuse of existing building stock located in and around the school’s current location at Nun’s Island. This initiative has the potential not only to encourage the students to better understand their built environment and gain skills in design, sketching, photography, model making & computer graphics. But also to encourage them to explore their local history & geography, engage in environmental studies, develop knowledge of material & construction studies as well as a practical use for ICT skills. The ability to spot problems and devise smart solutions—is being recast as a prized and teachable skill.

I find that these experiences have not only reinforced my belief in the importance and benefits to be found in ‘learning from making’ for a student’s development, but it has enabled them develop their own identity/interests, skills, sense of self confidence, and the possibilities for integrating this into all aspects of their learning process.

When we think about communicating something essential about the world be it through art/drama/storytelling etc. to young people in particular, it does not help to be didactic, to focus on technical or technological skill. I would encourage an emphasis on the enjoyment and the value of the process of making more than the result or final product. What is of benefit to the youth is found in the freedom, experimentation and exploration that went into their creation. Expect to make mistakes. There is no right way or wrong way. It is in finding solutions that make the value of creative imagination most valuable. My approach would be to get something across playfully. To equip students with valuable life tools which enhance their public speaking and communication skills, social development, emotional development as well as the cognitive benefits. Actually, to get playfulness itself across.

Irish Architecture Foundation

Deadline: 10am, Monday 14 January

The National Architects in Schools Initiative has been devised and delivered by the Irish Architecture Foundation since 2013. In order to establish the impact of the programme and identify areas for improvement, revision, expansion etc. the IAF wishes to conduct a comprehensive independent review of the programme in 2019.

The IAF would like to welcome tenders from experienced consultant(s) to review the programme through research, surveys, focus groups, observation and/or other methods, engaging with those who participate in the programme (students, teachers and architects), those who devise and deliver the programme and those who fund the programme, in order to achieve a 360° view on the programme’s strengths, deficits and opportunities for improvement.

The deadline for applications is Monday 14 January at 10am and the IAF intend to recruit the consultant(s) by end of January, with final reporting occurring in April 2019. The fee for the project is €9,500 inclusive of VAT. Tenders, and any queries, should be sent to education@architecturefoundation.ie

For more information go to architecturefoundation.ie/ news/invitation-to-tender-for- nasi-review/

Tell us the story of your project – What was the impetus? What was it about? Who was involved? How did you begin?

Derek O’Brien, Teacher: This is my second year to be involved in the National Architects in Schools Initiative. We worked with two different architects in that time and this year we worked with Emily Power. I have taught Construction Studies and DCG for 10 years now. I had been interested in participating for a number of years but only got around to it for the first time last year. Getting involved has been eye opening. I am more practically minded and feel I lack on the creativity side of things, which is the reason why I wouldn’t attempt to deliver a programme like this on my own and welcomed the opportunity to collaborate with an architect with a range of skills such as Emily. I wanted to bring in someone with new ideas and new ways of doing things and hopefully learn as much as the students. Myself and Emily worked very well together during the course of the programme which was essential to the delivery of the initiative.

Emily Power, Architect: This was my third time taking part in the National Architects in Schools Initiative but my first time collaborating with a woodwork teacher and working in a mixed (boys and girls) school. As an architect it is an excellent opportunity to work outside the traditional role of the architect and to bring the world and language of architecture to students. The first few workshops were used to look at what an architect does and to introduce the students to the language of architecture. The students began by interacting with the language of architecture through small construction projects and problem solving exercises such as mapping the school building and constructing stools out of cardboard. Shifting scale the students then looked at how the public move through Tramore. Through their mapping of public transport routes and public spaces of congregation they identified a need for shelter. Seven sites were chosen, mostly along the coastline and the students created pavilions specific to each site that improved the space for the user.

How were the ideas developed and how did the young people, artist and teacher work together?

Derek: I was delighted with the practical approach that Emily took to the project. From week one she got the students engaged. The group started off looking at different buildings of architectural significance around the world and researched the buildings and the architects which they found interesting. We looked at shape, colours, form, materials as well as the inspiration behind the buildings. From there the students designed chairs/stools that could only be made out of cardboard with no adhesives etc. This was a fantastic exercise to see the imagination and creativity of the group. There was great fun when it came to testing out their success (or not). Following on from this Emily based our main element of the project around the locality of Tramore. She brought in old OS maps over the years right up to the present day to show the development of the area. The students looked at areas of interest, routes around the town, significant buildings and eventually came up with the idea of designing shelters in different public areas with the theme of sustainability and the sea. As it was so much linked to their own lives and interests, they really engaged with the design and came up with six fantastic models.

Emily: I worked closely with Derek in creating a programme that could be facilitated by both of us. It was excellent to work with a teacher who was as enthusiastic as I was. It was also very clear that the students respected and liked Derek and everything worked very smoothly. Derek provided excellent support during the sessions and in my absence when there was work to be completed between sessions.

The following gives an overview of some of the tasks/activities that the students worked on:

Box & Stool Study: Using only a cardboard box the students had to transform the box into a load bearing stool. They could only use cutting implements and could not use any adhesives or tape. The students were instructed  to draw their box using the language of architecture. They had to consider structure, loads and think of methods to strengthen the cardboard e.g. folding and rolling. At the end of the session we had a group review where the students got to test their stool and see if they could withstand their weight.

Mapping the School: In order to emphasise the importance of observation I tasked the students with drawing different areas of the school with no plans and no measuring tools. Working in small groups they used their bodies, strides and objects like a sweeping brush, to measure the areas. They then produced drawings that were accurate and to scale…though not a traditional one!

Analysing Tramore: We needed to devise a design brief to inspire the project that the students would take on over the 12 hours of allocated workshop time. Ardscoil Na Mara were lucky enough to be in a new school building that was meeting their needs pretty well, so we looked outside to the local area of Tramore to see where we could find ways of improving the built environment. Using various maps of Tramore, recent and historical we looked at the evolution of the public and social space. They also tracked how people move through the town and identified spaces where the public congregate, both locals or tourists. Through these exercises they managed to identify seven areas that could benefit from a design intervention to improve people’s experience of those places.

Design Project: The students identified seven sites in Tramore that would benefit from a design intervention. Six of these were in picturesque areas along the coastline that are popular with locals and tourists. The final site is a park adjacent to the church and schools where students wait for parents and churchgoers meet after mass.

Design brief – the final design had to:

In their design the students considered wind direction, waterproofing, sunlight, ground conditions, materials, end users, storage, privacy, access, signage, and exposure. In order to convey their ideas they implemented the skills that they learned over the course of the programme. They sketched over photos, drew plans, sections and elevations and made models to represent their designs.

Breakdown of sessions: The Irish Architecture Foundation’s school resource pack My Architecture Design Journalis given to every student, teacher and architect participating on the National Architects in Schools Initiative. The journal sets out an engaging and useful set of project guidelines to support the participant’s journey on the project.

There are ten chapters to take participants through a design process from research, surveying space, designing, presenting ideas, discussion and reflection. The project guidelines encourage active learning and students can choose from a variety of creative methods including drawing, writing, model making, mapping, sketching, film and photography. Project themes guide teachers and students through social, aesthetic and technical aspects of architecture, encouraging research into local and international examples.

What was your personal experience of the project in terms of successes and challenges?

Emily: I thoroughly enjoy the experience of working with the students. The sessions are really enjoyable, hectic but very creative. For the students it is a different type of class, one that is not so structured. It can be challenging to encourage students to think creatively when traditionally they are expected to come up with one solution to a problem; this is a much more creative and expansive field of learning. We had to create a space where all ideas were encouraged. It took some time to get the students to open up to creative thinking and to work together. For some students this was their first experience of group work, experience in this is invaluable for their future education. In working with TY students you get to reconnect with the fundamentals of architecture and design. For the students it was an excellent opportunity for them to engage with their local community. I believe that they were empowered to see that they had the ability to design something that would benefit the wider community.

What was significant for you about the project that is worth sharing?

Derek: We displayed our projects in the school and invited local Senator Grace O’Sullivan to attend and to view our work. This was a great success. The studets got to present their ideas and she was able to ask the students interesting questions and engage them in a discussion about their projects. She was blown away by the designs. A group of architects and builders visiting the school that day also attended and engaged with the students about their ideas.

Emily: The students worked together in groups to design their pavilions for public spaces in Tramore. The worked culminated in an exhibition that we put on in the school for teachers, the principal and local Senator Grace O’Sullivan. I thought it was an excellent exercise for the students as they had to work together to come up with an oral presentation. They got to talk through their design ideas and inspirations and answer the questions the Senator had. The students also got to display their projects at the National Exhibition of the Architects in Schools Initiative in Tullamore organised by the Irish Architecture Foundation. This provided another opportunity to share and discuss their projects with other schools from all over Ireland and to see how other students approached their projects.

Has anything changed in your work as a result of the project?

Derek: From working with this initiative both myself and the students have a new found appreciation of the local area, design, architecture and sustainability. I personally have learned new ways of presenting topics to my classes as well as engaging with them actively and would be hopeful we continue the programme in the school into the future.

Emily: Taking part in the programme has given me a new perspective on how the public can engage with architecture. It is encouraging to see the students take interest in architecture and the impact design can have on how they interact with the built environment.

The IAF is looking for architects and architectural graduates to participate in the National Architects in Schools Initiative 2017-18. For more info click here

 

National Architects in Schools Initiative

The project, part of the Irish Architecture Foundation’s National Architects in School Initiative (NAISI), involved an Architect working with a Transition Year group of 25 mixed students and a Design and Technology teacher.

Students from Colaiste Cholim, undertook a wealth or tours and visits investigating many facets of architecture in their town of Ballincollig and the wider city of Cork. Starting from this perspective of how architecture relates to community, the students narrowed the focus for the design project, developing their own personal room for the garden of a semi detached house. As a fitting end to a project the students held an exhibition of their work in the local shopping centre of Ballincollig.

Engagement process:

The students began with a life drawing exercise to develop their observation skills. From here they were encouraged to develop their own opinions on architecture through research and discussion of the work of inspiring architects. There then followed a series of exploratory tours:

Development Process:

Having gleaned ideas, insights and an understanding of the diversity inherent in architecture, the student were set the task of designing a personal room in the back of a semi-detached sub-urban house. Designs based on a variety of personal interests emerged including an art studio, a cinema, a dance room and a chill out room. Using card, foam board and balsa wood the student made scale model of their designs for exhibition at the local shopping centre in Ballincollig, Cork.

Most useful activities:

Jerry Buttimer TD opened an Architecture Exhibition by students of Coláiste Choilm, of work produced during the IAF’s National Architects in Schools Initiative, at Ballincollig Shopping Centre. Each studetn presented their final project to a public audience and discussed individual projects with the TD and visitors including IAF Education Curator.

From the students:

I learned about design process + daily job and how jobs come about. I enjoyed making models and thinking of ideas for what to do for the project.
Student, 15
We’d done set projects before but this time we were able to use our own ideas and solve problems along the way. Felt more like a real designer!
Student, 16

From the Teacher:

Having taught a transition year construction module for a number of years, aspiring to develop an awareness and appreciation of the student’s environment, particularly their built environment, I heard of the Architecture in Schools initiative through the Cork Education Centre and decided to apply. My motivation initially was personal, as I have a great interest in architecture and was very interested in working with an architect. I also believed that if I could develop my own skills and knowledge it would ultimately benefit my students. I applied and was very fortunate to be paired with architect Seán Antóin Ó Muirí. We got on very well, both personally and professionally. This, in my opinion, was key to the success of the initiative. This is our second year working together and I have learned a great deal working with Seán.

Typically, we adopt a practical approach to student learning. The students learn through observation, sketching, discussion, research, presentation, and problem solving amongst other techniques. The students visit buildings of architectural significance locally, where they observe, record, present and discuss their experiences. They also watch videos, research architects and their work, and present their observations to their classmates. Another important part of their development is the visit to the Cork School of Architecture. This presents the students with a unique opportunity to view and discuss the work and course with college students and experience what life as a student of architecture is like. Also, the students are presented with a number of design challenges devised by Seán, from which they develop their own unique responses. These are varied in complexity, and time required for completion, and always have specific objectives.

I have learned significantly from my involvement in this initiative and particularly working with Seán. As a teacher with more than twenty years experience, I found I have become very focussed on “the end game”, which is the examination and marks in the Junior Cert and marks and points in the Leaving Cert for my students. I try to incorporate different teaching and learning experiences. However I am restricted in so far as the course must be covered, projects must be completed and time is limited.

Seán has an entirely different approach. He focuses very much on the process and allows the student the freedom to pursue their ideas. He guides, encourages and advises each student, and allows them to pursue their own ideas even if he disagrees with them. They are allowed the freedom to make mistakes and learn from them. The students are also encouraged to find out things for themselves, for example, if they require the size for a door, they measure the door in the room. This leads to collaboration between students and an excellent learning environment.

The students are enthusiastic and have learned a great deal. Their increased awareness of architecture is great. However the skills and confidence they have developed as a consequence of participating in this course is the real benefit of incorporating this initiative in a transition year program.

Danny Moynihan, Teacher

From the Architect:

I was motivated to particpate in the architects in schools programe because I am simply interested in architecture so I am always interested in getting other people’s perspectives and thoughts on the subject.
I took a lot of heart from the conceptual thinking that some of the students displayed in realising their projects, this is always very encouraging. The project was the first time I had taught architecture at secondary school level this was a new and good experience. There is a lot of energy to be sourced from working with other people, as I work on my own this was good to tap into this energy twice a week. I was blown away by some of the designs produced by some of the students, because the class was so big (25 students) it was very hard to give much time to any one student, so to see some of the designs produced with very little direction was very inspiring.
The students’ work is of a standard you’d expect from third level student projects, they demonstrated exceptional ability and commitment to the project. Support from the teacher, Danny Moynihan who has an incredible passion and interest in architecture also made it this project a great experience.

Seán Antóin Ó Muirí, Architect.


!!!! Calling All Creatives: Join Architecture at the Edge Design Lab 2021

Architecture at the Edge

Deadline: 8 March 2021

Architecture at the Edge a new outreach project in collaboration with Matt + Fiona is looking for creative and engaging architects, artists and designers to participate in Design Lab 2021 / a space for belonging.

Join this exciting initiative to empower the next generation to develop their ideas for the future of the local area.

Through Design Lab, you will enable them to develop ideas for a ‘Space for Belonging’ – with AATE and MATT+FIONA’s support. The initiative will involve training, facilitating creative workshops and joining an ambitious ‘Proto-Build’. Starting in April 2021 and culminating with the ‘Proto-Build’ in Autunm 2021, Design Lab is a great opportunity to share your knowledge and creativity with young people and teachers in a fun and engaging way.

If you have good communication skills and are looking for exciting ways to expand your practice, AATE would love to hear from you!

Deadline for applications is Monday 08 March at 12noon.

To apply, please email a completed application form and CV to architecture.edge@gmail.com

Supported by the Arts Council’s Capacity Building Support Scheme.

For further information and application details go to www.architectureattheedge.com/opencall2021

!!!! New Architecture Learning Resource for Schools: IAF DIY Studio

Irish Architecture Foundation

The IAF have produced an online resource ‘DIYStudio’ for teachers and secondary school students.

DIYStudio introduces you to architecture and is perfect for secondary schools students who might be curious about the process of design. Follow the five stages – Explore, Research, Design, Present, Reflect to design your own architectural space, learning and experimenting along the way. All you need to get started is internet access, paper and a pencil.

Students can start and finish anytime, DIYStudio is an ongoing project.

For further information go to architecturefoundation.ie/event/diystudio/

If you have any questions please email learning@architecturefoundation.ie

!!!! Irish Architecture Foundation: Open House Junior

Irish Architecture Foundation (IAF)

Dates: 8 – 11 October 

This years Open House Dublin from the Irish Architecture Foundation is set to take place on the weekend of 8 – 11 October. This year’s event will differ from previous years with a strong focus on online and digital events.

Open House Junior is a programme of workshops and activities for children and young people, with highlights including a Digital Design Challenge, and virtual workshops hosted by the Chester Beatty Library, Irish Museum of Modern Art, National Gallery of Ireland, Fighting Words and others.

With self-guided family ‘Architreks’ and ‘Make your own’ building templates from O’Mahony Pike Architects.

For more detail and bookings go to openhousedublin.com/whats-on/strands/open-house-junior/

!!!! Opportunity for Schools – Architects in Schools 2020/21 Open Call

Irish Architecture Foundation

Deadline: Friday 19 June 2020

The Irish Architecture Foundation are delighted to announce that applications are open for the 2020/21 Architects in Schools programme.

The Architects in Schools initiative for Transition Year students places architects and architectural graduates in schools across Ireland. Students learn how to research, design and communicate architectural ideas, always reimagining the spaces around them and sometimes even affecting change in their local built environment.

Check out Architect Frank Monahan’s guest blog series here on the Portal about his experience on the initiative.

For further information and to apply go to https://architecturefoundation.ie/news/architects-in-schools-2020-2021-open-call-for-schools/. 

Or email learning@architecturefoundation.ie for queries.

Closing date Friday 19 June

!!!! Frank Monahan Architect & Cultural Producer – Blog No. 4

Frank is an Irish designer /cultural producer with an interest in film, the arts & architecture. His professional practice includes the design of buildings, & set design for film/television production. He holds a BA in Architecture, 2008 and a Professional Diploma in Architecture, 2012 both from London Metropolitan University. Prior to this he recieved a B.Des. in Production Design for Film/Television, from IADT. This background has informed his approach to practice, which is collaborative, interdisciplinary and site specific.Interested in the critical potential of design he established Architecture at the Edge in 2017, for which he devised and curated the events programme. He produced an outdoor installation, ‘Ghost Chapel’ for Galway International Arts Festival 2018 in collaboration with the Bartlett School of Architecture.

Growing our Connections – Blog 4

Having taught the National Architects in Schools Initiative for the past three years I find it can still be quite a daunting task when faced with a new group of students.

Many of the students don’t understand the value of their built environment because they have never seen the benefits it can offer them.

It’s difficult for students to learn without experiencing connections as to the concepts we teach them. This can be achieved through providing both context and relevance. Without that connection there is no interest, and interest always precedes meaningful and authentic learning. So it’s essential that we are making strong learning connections to help them develop the thinking habits they need to succeed.

Schools are comprised of the people in the community. Coming from outside it’s important to understand the community your students are a part of. Mountbellew is a quiet rural market town 45km from Galway on the N63 to Roscommon. Once the home of the Grattan-Bellew family, famous Galway parliamentarians during the 18th and 19th centuries. The former demesne is now a delightful wooded area of forest walks and picnic areas, filled with interesting historical items.

Upon my first visit to Mountbellew, whilst seeking out a connection to the place, I was drawn down an inviting avenue of beech trees where I was immediately taken by the sight of a 7m high wall, the enclosure to an extensive eighteenth century Walled Garden which was once part of the large Bellew estate.  For a century and a half this walled garden was used in the manner of all such Victorian/Edwardian gardens, although simply because of its size, more than household fruit and vegetables were probably grown.

I learned that the long term aim of the local heritage group here is to rejuvenate, conserve and develop the 18th century walled garden. Developing this existing heritage resource will provide a new amenity for the area. It will also complement other local heritage and recreation assets helping attract visitors to the area stimulating rural tourism.

From the outset I knew it was important to set a clear and engaging agenda with the students and so by way of introduction find something in their common experiences to which the lesson can be attached. Here in the walled garden is a space to explore, walk, discover and feel inspired by all it has to offer; a reminder that as times change natures story goes on. To function as a place to grow food, for pleasure and wellbeing.

Before we launched into making any propositions it was important to give time to the students and allow them articulate their ideas. Topics were selected for the students to share in groups. Investigation into the history and functions of various types of garden generated one starting point for beginning transformational change such as should its use be as a kitchen garden distinct from a decorative one. The many ways we experience gardens were discussed. The pleasure garden, the kitchen garden, the memorial garden and/or as a place to re-connect with nature. A presentation by the local heritage group committee members was followed the following week with a guided site visit.

In speculating on its potential one of the students reminded us that the parents of Anna Kriegel had planted a white cherry blossom at her favorite spot and unveiled a bench which bears an inscription with her name. Another then talked of the seat under a tree at the Mountbellew walled garden which ladies once sat how they might propose to do the same. The sense of a connection to place and how that can relate to our own experience of the world underpinned the project. This is about learning how everything is interconnected and interdependent. Understanding the relationship between things can help people see and understand their community in different ways. That association with people and place is fundamental.

Students learn by exposure to real life examples and their experiences and observations of these examples greatly accelerates their learning. Part of this task required the students to ‘Look Locally’ i.e. Find clear links between the lessons and the things that are transpiring in the local community, and even get them actively involved with community individuals. It’s about teaching and learning that is focused on student centered inquiry.

A second field trip was organized, with a group assigned to conduct an on-site survey which would inform the task of making of a 1:100 site model.

Making the model allowed the re-imaging of the walled garden to take shape. The resulting design links a series of new public spaces/ rooms and reuses an existing building as a community hub / cafe to give purpose and a variety of gathering places to the center of garden.

The aim here was to create space for every young person to be at the center of co-designing their own future, community spaces, projects and campaigns. To give voice of the student and allow them give that voice back to their community.

In working with the students like this I hope that it will stimulate them to become actively involved and engaged in shaping their local built environments and landscapes. Place-based education promotes learning that is rooted in what is local—the unique history, environment, culture, economy, literature, and art of a particular place—and it promotes a place-specific, sustainable approach to living, working and playing in our 21st century rural communities. The main objective is to attract interest and support from the community at large and to help re-educate ourselves about the importance of sustainable and healthy living.

Young people need a space where they can be unafraid to explore. As a result, the sense of place created by a village’s cultural heritage links directly to a community’s sense of identity, which can ultimately enhance people’s overall sense of being and belonging and quality of life. The walled garden at Mountbellew offers this. They need to live it, grow with it, tend to it. For them, it can be a space of hope and promise:  if we put in the right effort and intention just about growing our connection to nature, it is essentially growing our connection to each other.

!!!! Guest Blogger: Frank Monahan Architect & Cultural Producer – Blog No. 3

Frank is an Irish designer /cultural producer with an interest in film, the arts & architecture. His professional practice includes the design of buildings, & set design for film/television production. He holds a BA in Architecture, 2008 and a Professional Diploma in Architecture, 2012 both from London Metropolitan University. Prior to this he recieved a B.Des. in Production Design for Film/Television, from IADT. This background has informed his approach to practice, which is collaborative, interdisciplinary and site specific.Interested in the critical potential of design he established Architecture at the Edge in 2017, for which he devised and curated the events programme. He produced an outdoor installation, ‘Ghost Chapel’ for Galway International Arts Festival 2018 in collaboration with the Bartlett School of Architecture.

 

Learning from the power of place – Blog 3

“I walk because it confers- or restores- a feeling of placeness …I walk because, somehow, it’s like reading …” 

Lauren Elkin, Flâneuse: Women Walk the City in Paris, New York, Tokyo, Venice and London

Charles Baudelaire and Walter Benjamin wrote a while ago about the modern man, who walked the city in order to explore its history, the architecture, the changing environment.

That idea of exploring and thinking is about making sense of things, the places and people we encounter, and this approach can also be applied to adolescence children in their world, by interacting, investigating, questioning, and forming, testing and refining their ideas.

Place-based education promotes learning that is rooted in what is local— the unique local history, environment, economy, culture, landscapes, and architecture of a particular place – in mapping the students’ own “place” or immediate schoolyard, neighborhood, town or community. And walking is like mapping with your feet.  It can promote a place-specific, sustainable approach to living, working and playing for all.

Following an introduction to the IAF Architects in Schools Programme to the TY students at St. Raphael’s College, Loughrea we started by asking the students a little about the town, the whereabouts of where they live and by what means had they travelled to the school that day. I wanted to find out about their lived experience and connection to the place. From this informal survey it soon became clear that the majority lived in either peripheralhousing estates or ribbon development on the towns fringes – the exception a few living on farm settlements in the environs of the county side. Not one it seemed lived within the town itself. I suggested walking the town together would allow us to stop – take a detour – and explore the form of that built environment.

Finding a historic street map from the local library and placing a glass, rim down, onto the map, we drew round its edge. We then instructed the students to pick up the map, go out into the town, and walk the circle, and keeping as close as they can to the curve, record their observations. This also helped them to get an idea of where we were in the context of the place.  Loughrea town is compact and so in short, the walk would show us all the key places in the town, and help us see some hidden gems in the process. By walking  – not only do you get great exercise –  you won’t miss details and you’re much more likely to go in different buildings, squeeze down alleyways, etc.

Loughrea lies at a number of boundaries, both historic and geographic and its pattern and form of development has been shaped by these features at the various stages of its development. The lake and medieval moate are wonderful but one could easily pass through Loughrea without noticing either. Its existing street plan closely follows that of a medieval layout. Many tall narrow properties on either side of the Main Street occupy burgage plots laid out in the 13th century.

The Temperance Hall / Barracks road complex is a palimpsest in which the layered history of Loughrea is revealed. Signs of the walled town, the original Gate House and successive military occupations are evident at even a quick glance. Behind the Temperance Hall, built c1780s as a Cavalry Barracks, we found a complex of buildings enclosed by fragments of a defensive wall. The site backed up to the lake with picturesque views out to the crannogs and surrounding landscape beyond. Student research later revealed the arrangement had once also included a hospital, infirmary and forge. Part currently provides social, cultural and educational services for the people of the town. This was the chosen site for the student’s design project. One of the first tasks we set in carrying out the survey was to photograph and to draw these buildings.

The aim, to adapt the assembly of buildings and introduce / incorporate new housing typologies into it to form a new ‘piece of town’. One that faced the lake but which also utilized the existing network of lanes which connect back from here into the town proper. The project was somehow about revitalizing this forgotten space, repopulating it and in so doing, assist in remedying the vacancy seen in the adjacent streets at the town center.

Adopting this strategy, the workshops which followed were designed to place the student at the center of this process, and resulted in propositions for a new linear public park, a café on the crannog and a new mixed residential community. All this, a clear demonstration for the potential of architecture to enhance the experience of living and working in the 21st century Irish town, coming from the students themselves.

It goes to show that if we start with small steps …. to support novice viewers become more observant and more thoughtful about what they are looking at then this can empower them to present an alternative vision for their existing built environment. It is so vital that our towns are living vibrant places, of social and cultural exchange, community and interactions and so they must be constantly maintained as adaptive changing entities.

We see that legacy of bad planning in towns like Loughrea. It’s one symptomatic of the challenges facing many small communities in Ireland – contradictory forces in the commercial landscape due to changing consumer behavior patterns, with resultant accepted sprawl of housing leading to vehicular predominance, and the changing demographics  – have pulled and shaped the town, and continue to do so resulting in increased vacancy at its core. In the context of climate change walkable and compact small towns have so much to offer us. The aim must be to shift the narrative from ‘conserving’ or ‘preserving’ small town settlements to ‘re-thinking’ and ‘championing’ them.

The students demonstrated an understanding of how these challenges faced by smaller communities can be overcome through sensitivity, creativity, collaboration and long-term stewardship. The projects demonstrate the possibilities of working in historic fabrics, re-connecting town centers to their surroundings and integrating a mix of uses into town centers. They arrived at a way of living which might suggest a more flexible approach to the town plot. It’s about creating a learning experiences that leverage the power of place. In fostering students’ connection to place, help their understanding of where they live and how taking action in their own backyards helps to take care of the world around them.

 

 

 

!!!! Guest Blogger: Frank Monahan Architect & Cultural Producer – Blog No. 2

Frank is an Irish-born designer /cultural producer with an interest in film, architecture & the arts, design and technology. An honors graduate in Production Design for Film, TV and theatre, he spent the best part of a decade in this sector. Coming from a film and set design background, he has always been passionate about the power of buildings and spaces to tell stories and he developed this interest further when he later moved into interior and architectural design work setting up practice in London in 2001. This experience led to a decision to study architecture at London Metropolitan University where he was awarded an BA Honors’ Architecture in 2008 and a Professional Diploma in Architecture 2012.


His professional practice includes the design of buildings & set design for film and television production. This has informed his approach to practice, which is collaborative, interdisciplinary and site-specific. With a long term interest in the critical potential of design he established the Architecture at the Edge Festival in 2017, for which he devised and developed the events programme through all stages: planning, development and administration, including the curation and production of an annual symposium on Placemaking  & associated workshops. He recently produced an outdoor built installation, ‘Ghost Chapel’ for Galway International Arts Festival 2018 in collaboration with Bartlett School of Architecture.

Cities Need Old Buildings – Blog 2

‘Cities need old buildings so badly it is probably impossible for vigorous streets and districts to grow without them…. for really new ideas of any kind—no matter how ultimately profitable or otherwise successful some of them might prove to be—there is no leeway for such chancy trial, error and experimentation in the high-overhead economy of new construction. Old ideas can sometimes use new buildings. New ideas must use old buildings.’

From; The Death and Life of Great American Cities , Jane Jacobs

In my last blog I described how we extended the Irish Architecture Foundation (IAF) – Architects in Schools learning programme at The Bish into engagement beyond the school gate. Incorporating urban sketching on Nuns Island and other activities within the workshop itinerary in an attempt to encourage and allow the students an opportunity to examine their city from another perspective … to be creative. To be imaginative.

With the school located on part of the under-utilized parcel of land at the edge of Galway City center, the regeneration of Nuns Island lands need careful and detailed consideration it being directly between the City and NUI Galway it easily facilitates an expansion of the University campus or an expansion of the City creating a civic space to carefully bring both City and University together. NUI Galway and Galway City Council recently launched a public consultation for this very purpose. The aim here is to transform Nuns’ Island into a new quarter that will enable the city to capitalize on its creativity, enterprise and quality of life. The masterplan is being prepared by internationally-renowned planners BDP, business strategy advisors Colliers International and quantity surveyors AECOM. It is supported by the Government’s Urban Regeneration Development Fund. Focusing on this regeneration of Nuns Island we were delighted that Gareth McGuire, Architect Director BDP agreed to lead the students on a mapping exercise.

So we took a walk through their Island, mapping the existing spaces and their functions, recording the grain of the place and also seeking out opportunities for future interventions.

Amongst the key programmatic functions identified by the students in this process a number of themes evolved;

Amongst these functions one of the activities identified by the students is the sight every July of the Big Blue Tent at Fisheries Field, erected for the duration of GIAF Arts Festival. It’s a signifier of the festival status which is core to the public life of the city and a landmark for the summer. We discussed with the students about this ‘creative arts entertainment’ intervention and the potential for other spaces on the island, such as the old derelict Persse’s Distillery Building for adaptive reuse purposes. What might those buildings and spaces become? Student accommodation? With the meeting of ‘Town and Gown’ perhaps a shared library building for the city would be useful? Or a new Distillery? A Contemporary Art Gallery? Co-working spaces to foster a creative community? The students could quite readily foresee that in the creative use of these spaces lies the key to regeneration for the entire masterplan.

GIAF Big Top

GIAF Big Top

During the process I was reminded of a famous line from the late great urbanist Jane Jacobs: “New ideas must use old buildings.” So how to interpret and translate that into a way which might allow the students to engage directly in the process of reimaging Nuns Island?

Attending the Galway International Arts Festival 2019 programme launch last Thursday, the Artistic Director Paul Fahy, referred to the lack of cultural infrastructure in the city, reaffirming the festivals need to ‘Adapt old spaces and turn them into something new … ’he announced that as in previous years having utilized the former Connacht Tribune Printworks for the Festival Gallery, and this now being is no longer available, (again its being repurposed but now as an indoor food market),  GIAF is out of necessity appropriating and re-adapting the old GPO Sorting Office for the Festival Gallery 2019. Situated just off William street this building is just one other city center site which has lain vacant and idle for many years. Out of sight and just screaming for rejuvenation!!

The GIAF festival have always been the cultural pioneers in this city whom out of necessity occupy overlooked and abandoned spaces and transform them into vibrant active places. They understood that a former printing works, or an GPO sorting office can accommodate exactly the kind of framework needed for a creative hub /district. Both examples demonstrate a pragmatic response, creating flexible public buildings that give scope for further development. That kind of loose-fit re-apportion of space does not dictate how it should be used, the potential for revival is already there in the infrastructure and Galway has the cultural riches to attract people in the first place. It’s a matter of turning it to the right purpose. To look at the seeming familiar from another perspective …

As Architects we are often challenged to respond to these kinds of circumstances by conceiving new ideas for the design or re-design of existing spaces. In this process architects can become both activist and educator, championing the cause and helping to galvanize the support of the local community.

This was the approach taken with the students at the Bish. Bringing the class out into the town to explore and experience spaces and familiar places on their door step. To invite them to contribute and make decisions on what buildings or spaces they would like to create in their own local area. You could sense the excitement among the student participants in engaging as stakeholders themselves in that process which shapes their environment, in opening up new ways of looking and engaging with the world, and just perhaps pathways to creative careers as master planners or cultural pioneers for a few.

!!!! Schools invited to apply for the Architects in Schools 2019/20 initiative

Irish Architecture Foundation

Deadline Date: Friday 31 May 2019

Applications are now open for schools to participate in the Irish Architecture Foundation’s Architects in Schools 2019/20 initiative. An initiative aiming to encourage collaboration between architects and teachers, giving Transition Year students a hands-on design experience.

Now in its seventh year, Architects in Schools has been delivered in over 80 schools nationwide to date, with students exploring how design and architecture affect their school and local environment, learning a range of skills and gaining insight into a range of career options. The initiative begins with a skills sharing day for all participating teachers and architects in late September, projects/workshops are delivered in classrooms in terms 1 and/or 2 and the initiative culminates with a national exhibition in mid April.

Places on the initiative are limited to 30 schools per year, and the IAF selects schools through an application process, aiming for a broad geographic spread, a mix of school types and a balance between new and returning schools. To give your school the best chance of participating, apply online by Friday 31 May.

For more information, visit the IAF website at architecturefoundation.ie/ news/architects-in-schools- 2019-20-open-for-school- applications/

To apply online go to  https://docs.google. com/forms/d/e/ 1FAIpQLSf9ZICqLfJ- CdcHVH8buyWLfdpNk1LyixWF7FS7CW XUrJEenw/viewform

!!!! Guest Blogger: Frank Monahan Architect & Cultural Producer – Blog No. 1

Frank is an Irish-born designer /cultural producer with an interest in film, architecture & the arts, design and technology. An honors graduate in Production Design for Film, TV and theatre, he spent the best part of a decade in this sector. Coming from a film and set design background, he has always been passionate about the power of buildings and spaces to tell stories and he developed this interest further when he later moved into interior and architectural design work setting up practice in London in 2001. This experience led to a decision to study architecture at London Metropolitan University where he was awarded an BA Honors’ Architecture in 2008 and a Professional Diploma in Architecture 2012.


His professional practice includes the design of buildings & set design for film and television production. This has informed his approach to practice, which is collaborative, interdisciplinary and site-specific. With a long term interest in the critical potential of design he established the Architecture at the Edge Festival in 2017, for which he devised and developed the events programme through all stages: planning, development and administration, including the curation and production of an annual symposium on Placemaking  & associated workshops. He recently produced an outdoor built installation, ‘Ghost Chapel’ for Galway International Arts Festival 2018 in collaboration with Bartlett School of Architecture.

Threshold – Blog 1

TY students from schools around the country completed their IAF Architects in Schools project this month with a presentation at GMIT’s Cluain Mhuire campus to IAF, GMIT staff and Architect Dermot Bannon. Devised and delivered by the Irish Architecture Foundation, this initiative provides students with first-hand experience of the design process under the guidance of design professionals.

This was my third year participating in the programme, and alongside architect Sybil Curley returning to my alma mater at St. Josephs College, ‘the Bish’, Galway we undertook to deliver a series of workshops which might allow the students to develop their visual spatial skills. Art is not taught as part of the curriculum at the school, so it was important that we find a way to allow the students the opportunity to express their inherent creativity. The teacher was keen for us to assist the students to work on design concept development that would prepare them for Design Communication and Graphics (DCG) subject challenges. To this aim, prompting visual research was very important as it helped the students investigate that process. Taking steps to intentionally address any lack of confidence in their own creativity the students surveyed areas of the school and recorded observations on materials, light levels, circulation etc. Critical thinking and visual awareness was encouraged throughout the course.  Exploratory site visits further increased the students’ visual vocabulary and ability to convey design concepts through sketching.

In the first year we explored the idea of ‘Threshold’ in creating an aedicule, between the school institution and the city. There are plans to relocate the school away from Nuns Island and out of the city to a new site in the coming years so the idea was to think about designing a ‘gateway’ into the new institution. Starting with an exercise to create their own school motto to place above the entrance to the existing school building we brought the students out to sketch the Spanish Arch and other historical approach’s to the city. Following mapping exercises of the schools existing entrances and reception areas as well documenting the access roads/bridges onto the Island in which the school is located the students constructed a 1:100 physical model of the school upon which they could place designs of their own ‘aedicule’ interventions.

The following year we continued this exploration of that kind of creative flexibility which extended into how we can engage with the city beyond the school. Inspired by dePaor Architects refurbishment of Druid theatre, the students reimagined the adaptive reuse of their existing school building, turning it towards the river, and incorporating the adjacent Nuns Island Theatre into the schools buildings programme.  Careful consideration was made to how best retain the character of this building, a former Methodist Church repurposed as an arts venue, and how this might give greater flexibility for improvements throughout the entire schools built infrastructure.

The design brief encouraged them to practice a culture of sustainability in our built environment through adaptive reuse of existing building stock located in and around the school’s current location at Nun’s Island. This initiative has the potential not only to encourage the students to better understand their built environment and gain skills in design, sketching, photography, model making & computer graphics. But also to encourage them to explore their local history & geography, engage in environmental studies, develop knowledge of material & construction studies as well as a practical use for ICT skills. The ability to spot problems and devise smart solutions—is being recast as a prized and teachable skill.

I find that these experiences have not only reinforced my belief in the importance and benefits to be found in ‘learning from making’ for a student’s development, but it has enabled them develop their own identity/interests, skills, sense of self confidence, and the possibilities for integrating this into all aspects of their learning process.

When we think about communicating something essential about the world be it through art/drama/storytelling etc. to young people in particular, it does not help to be didactic, to focus on technical or technological skill. I would encourage an emphasis on the enjoyment and the value of the process of making more than the result or final product. What is of benefit to the youth is found in the freedom, experimentation and exploration that went into their creation. Expect to make mistakes. There is no right way or wrong way. It is in finding solutions that make the value of creative imagination most valuable. My approach would be to get something across playfully. To equip students with valuable life tools which enhance their public speaking and communication skills, social development, emotional development as well as the cognitive benefits. Actually, to get playfulness itself across.

!!!! Opportunity: Open Call announced to review the National Architects in Schools Initiative from IAF

Irish Architecture Foundation

Deadline: 10am, Monday 14 January

The National Architects in Schools Initiative has been devised and delivered by the Irish Architecture Foundation since 2013. In order to establish the impact of the programme and identify areas for improvement, revision, expansion etc. the IAF wishes to conduct a comprehensive independent review of the programme in 2019.

The IAF would like to welcome tenders from experienced consultant(s) to review the programme through research, surveys, focus groups, observation and/or other methods, engaging with those who participate in the programme (students, teachers and architects), those who devise and deliver the programme and those who fund the programme, in order to achieve a 360° view on the programme’s strengths, deficits and opportunities for improvement.

The deadline for applications is Monday 14 January at 10am and the IAF intend to recruit the consultant(s) by end of January, with final reporting occurring in April 2019. The fee for the project is €9,500 inclusive of VAT. Tenders, and any queries, should be sent to education@architecturefoundation.ie

For more information go to architecturefoundation.ie/ news/invitation-to-tender-for- nasi-review/

!!!! IAF National Architects in School Programme

Tell us the story of your project – What was the impetus? What was it about? Who was involved? How did you begin?

Derek O’Brien, Teacher: This is my second year to be involved in the National Architects in Schools Initiative. We worked with two different architects in that time and this year we worked with Emily Power. I have taught Construction Studies and DCG for 10 years now. I had been interested in participating for a number of years but only got around to it for the first time last year. Getting involved has been eye opening. I am more practically minded and feel I lack on the creativity side of things, which is the reason why I wouldn’t attempt to deliver a programme like this on my own and welcomed the opportunity to collaborate with an architect with a range of skills such as Emily. I wanted to bring in someone with new ideas and new ways of doing things and hopefully learn as much as the students. Myself and Emily worked very well together during the course of the programme which was essential to the delivery of the initiative.

Emily Power, Architect: This was my third time taking part in the National Architects in Schools Initiative but my first time collaborating with a woodwork teacher and working in a mixed (boys and girls) school. As an architect it is an excellent opportunity to work outside the traditional role of the architect and to bring the world and language of architecture to students. The first few workshops were used to look at what an architect does and to introduce the students to the language of architecture. The students began by interacting with the language of architecture through small construction projects and problem solving exercises such as mapping the school building and constructing stools out of cardboard. Shifting scale the students then looked at how the public move through Tramore. Through their mapping of public transport routes and public spaces of congregation they identified a need for shelter. Seven sites were chosen, mostly along the coastline and the students created pavilions specific to each site that improved the space for the user.

How were the ideas developed and how did the young people, artist and teacher work together?

Derek: I was delighted with the practical approach that Emily took to the project. From week one she got the students engaged. The group started off looking at different buildings of architectural significance around the world and researched the buildings and the architects which they found interesting. We looked at shape, colours, form, materials as well as the inspiration behind the buildings. From there the students designed chairs/stools that could only be made out of cardboard with no adhesives etc. This was a fantastic exercise to see the imagination and creativity of the group. There was great fun when it came to testing out their success (or not). Following on from this Emily based our main element of the project around the locality of Tramore. She brought in old OS maps over the years right up to the present day to show the development of the area. The students looked at areas of interest, routes around the town, significant buildings and eventually came up with the idea of designing shelters in different public areas with the theme of sustainability and the sea. As it was so much linked to their own lives and interests, they really engaged with the design and came up with six fantastic models.

Emily: I worked closely with Derek in creating a programme that could be facilitated by both of us. It was excellent to work with a teacher who was as enthusiastic as I was. It was also very clear that the students respected and liked Derek and everything worked very smoothly. Derek provided excellent support during the sessions and in my absence when there was work to be completed between sessions.

The following gives an overview of some of the tasks/activities that the students worked on:

Box & Stool Study: Using only a cardboard box the students had to transform the box into a load bearing stool. They could only use cutting implements and could not use any adhesives or tape. The students were instructed  to draw their box using the language of architecture. They had to consider structure, loads and think of methods to strengthen the cardboard e.g. folding and rolling. At the end of the session we had a group review where the students got to test their stool and see if they could withstand their weight.

Mapping the School: In order to emphasise the importance of observation I tasked the students with drawing different areas of the school with no plans and no measuring tools. Working in small groups they used their bodies, strides and objects like a sweeping brush, to measure the areas. They then produced drawings that were accurate and to scale…though not a traditional one!

Analysing Tramore: We needed to devise a design brief to inspire the project that the students would take on over the 12 hours of allocated workshop time. Ardscoil Na Mara were lucky enough to be in a new school building that was meeting their needs pretty well, so we looked outside to the local area of Tramore to see where we could find ways of improving the built environment. Using various maps of Tramore, recent and historical we looked at the evolution of the public and social space. They also tracked how people move through the town and identified spaces where the public congregate, both locals or tourists. Through these exercises they managed to identify seven areas that could benefit from a design intervention to improve people’s experience of those places.

Design Project: The students identified seven sites in Tramore that would benefit from a design intervention. Six of these were in picturesque areas along the coastline that are popular with locals and tourists. The final site is a park adjacent to the church and schools where students wait for parents and churchgoers meet after mass.

Design brief – the final design had to:

In their design the students considered wind direction, waterproofing, sunlight, ground conditions, materials, end users, storage, privacy, access, signage, and exposure. In order to convey their ideas they implemented the skills that they learned over the course of the programme. They sketched over photos, drew plans, sections and elevations and made models to represent their designs.

Breakdown of sessions: The Irish Architecture Foundation’s school resource pack My Architecture Design Journalis given to every student, teacher and architect participating on the National Architects in Schools Initiative. The journal sets out an engaging and useful set of project guidelines to support the participant’s journey on the project.

There are ten chapters to take participants through a design process from research, surveying space, designing, presenting ideas, discussion and reflection. The project guidelines encourage active learning and students can choose from a variety of creative methods including drawing, writing, model making, mapping, sketching, film and photography. Project themes guide teachers and students through social, aesthetic and technical aspects of architecture, encouraging research into local and international examples.

What was your personal experience of the project in terms of successes and challenges?

Emily: I thoroughly enjoy the experience of working with the students. The sessions are really enjoyable, hectic but very creative. For the students it is a different type of class, one that is not so structured. It can be challenging to encourage students to think creatively when traditionally they are expected to come up with one solution to a problem; this is a much more creative and expansive field of learning. We had to create a space where all ideas were encouraged. It took some time to get the students to open up to creative thinking and to work together. For some students this was their first experience of group work, experience in this is invaluable for their future education. In working with TY students you get to reconnect with the fundamentals of architecture and design. For the students it was an excellent opportunity for them to engage with their local community. I believe that they were empowered to see that they had the ability to design something that would benefit the wider community.

What was significant for you about the project that is worth sharing?

Derek: We displayed our projects in the school and invited local Senator Grace O’Sullivan to attend and to view our work. This was a great success. The studets got to present their ideas and she was able to ask the students interesting questions and engage them in a discussion about their projects. She was blown away by the designs. A group of architects and builders visiting the school that day also attended and engaged with the students about their ideas.

Emily: The students worked together in groups to design their pavilions for public spaces in Tramore. The worked culminated in an exhibition that we put on in the school for teachers, the principal and local Senator Grace O’Sullivan. I thought it was an excellent exercise for the students as they had to work together to come up with an oral presentation. They got to talk through their design ideas and inspirations and answer the questions the Senator had. The students also got to display their projects at the National Exhibition of the Architects in Schools Initiative in Tullamore organised by the Irish Architecture Foundation. This provided another opportunity to share and discuss their projects with other schools from all over Ireland and to see how other students approached their projects.

Has anything changed in your work as a result of the project?

Derek: From working with this initiative both myself and the students have a new found appreciation of the local area, design, architecture and sustainability. I personally have learned new ways of presenting topics to my classes as well as engaging with them actively and would be hopeful we continue the programme in the school into the future.

Emily: Taking part in the programme has given me a new perspective on how the public can engage with architecture. It is encouraging to see the students take interest in architecture and the impact design can have on how they interact with the built environment.

The IAF is looking for architects and architectural graduates to participate in the National Architects in Schools Initiative 2017-18. For more info click here

 

!!!! National Architects in Schools Initiative

National Architects in Schools Initiative

The project, part of the Irish Architecture Foundation’s National Architects in School Initiative (NAISI), involved an Architect working with a Transition Year group of 25 mixed students and a Design and Technology teacher.

Students from Colaiste Cholim, undertook a wealth or tours and visits investigating many facets of architecture in their town of Ballincollig and the wider city of Cork. Starting from this perspective of how architecture relates to community, the students narrowed the focus for the design project, developing their own personal room for the garden of a semi detached house. As a fitting end to a project the students held an exhibition of their work in the local shopping centre of Ballincollig.

Engagement process:

The students began with a life drawing exercise to develop their observation skills. From here they were encouraged to develop their own opinions on architecture through research and discussion of the work of inspiring architects. There then followed a series of exploratory tours:

Development Process:

Having gleaned ideas, insights and an understanding of the diversity inherent in architecture, the student were set the task of designing a personal room in the back of a semi-detached sub-urban house. Designs based on a variety of personal interests emerged including an art studio, a cinema, a dance room and a chill out room. Using card, foam board and balsa wood the student made scale model of their designs for exhibition at the local shopping centre in Ballincollig, Cork.

Most useful activities:

Jerry Buttimer TD opened an Architecture Exhibition by students of Coláiste Choilm, of work produced during the IAF’s National Architects in Schools Initiative, at Ballincollig Shopping Centre. Each studetn presented their final project to a public audience and discussed individual projects with the TD and visitors including IAF Education Curator.

From the students:

I learned about design process + daily job and how jobs come about. I enjoyed making models and thinking of ideas for what to do for the project.
Student, 15
We’d done set projects before but this time we were able to use our own ideas and solve problems along the way. Felt more like a real designer!
Student, 16

From the Teacher:

Having taught a transition year construction module for a number of years, aspiring to develop an awareness and appreciation of the student’s environment, particularly their built environment, I heard of the Architecture in Schools initiative through the Cork Education Centre and decided to apply. My motivation initially was personal, as I have a great interest in architecture and was very interested in working with an architect. I also believed that if I could develop my own skills and knowledge it would ultimately benefit my students. I applied and was very fortunate to be paired with architect Seán Antóin Ó Muirí. We got on very well, both personally and professionally. This, in my opinion, was key to the success of the initiative. This is our second year working together and I have learned a great deal working with Seán.

Typically, we adopt a practical approach to student learning. The students learn through observation, sketching, discussion, research, presentation, and problem solving amongst other techniques. The students visit buildings of architectural significance locally, where they observe, record, present and discuss their experiences. They also watch videos, research architects and their work, and present their observations to their classmates. Another important part of their development is the visit to the Cork School of Architecture. This presents the students with a unique opportunity to view and discuss the work and course with college students and experience what life as a student of architecture is like. Also, the students are presented with a number of design challenges devised by Seán, from which they develop their own unique responses. These are varied in complexity, and time required for completion, and always have specific objectives.

I have learned significantly from my involvement in this initiative and particularly working with Seán. As a teacher with more than twenty years experience, I found I have become very focussed on “the end game”, which is the examination and marks in the Junior Cert and marks and points in the Leaving Cert for my students. I try to incorporate different teaching and learning experiences. However I am restricted in so far as the course must be covered, projects must be completed and time is limited.

Seán has an entirely different approach. He focuses very much on the process and allows the student the freedom to pursue their ideas. He guides, encourages and advises each student, and allows them to pursue their own ideas even if he disagrees with them. They are allowed the freedom to make mistakes and learn from them. The students are also encouraged to find out things for themselves, for example, if they require the size for a door, they measure the door in the room. This leads to collaboration between students and an excellent learning environment.

The students are enthusiastic and have learned a great deal. Their increased awareness of architecture is great. However the skills and confidence they have developed as a consequence of participating in this course is the real benefit of incorporating this initiative in a transition year program.

Danny Moynihan, Teacher

From the Architect:

I was motivated to particpate in the architects in schools programe because I am simply interested in architecture so I am always interested in getting other people’s perspectives and thoughts on the subject.
I took a lot of heart from the conceptual thinking that some of the students displayed in realising their projects, this is always very encouraging. The project was the first time I had taught architecture at secondary school level this was a new and good experience. There is a lot of energy to be sourced from working with other people, as I work on my own this was good to tap into this energy twice a week. I was blown away by some of the designs produced by some of the students, because the class was so big (25 students) it was very hard to give much time to any one student, so to see some of the designs produced with very little direction was very inspiring.
The students’ work is of a standard you’d expect from third level student projects, they demonstrated exceptional ability and commitment to the project. Support from the teacher, Danny Moynihan who has an incredible passion and interest in architecture also made it this project a great experience.

Seán Antóin Ó Muirí, Architect.