Galway, City Architect?

Postby garethace » Mon Feb 09, 2004 6:08 pm

Originally posted by Diaspora
That said,
I really took to Geography at second level getting an A1 and I am an avid traveller. I have imported many of my ideas on planning from things I have seen travelling.


It shows, in a refreshing and positive way too I might add. But most of all, you do not seem to have adopted the architects' 'El Duce' extremist stance on discussion formats.

I would respectfully suggest that DIT drop classical music from its architectural curriculum and put a module of urban geography in its place. ;)


Hit the nail on the head - I know more about Leonardo da Vinci and rubbish like that - not one single classroom subject in DIT curriculum has anything even remotely to do with the built environment.
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Postby phil » Mon Feb 09, 2004 6:11 pm

QUOTE]Originally posted by FIN



i was phil...
[/QUOTE]

In that case Fin, I apologise for my rant. :)

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Postby garethace » Mon Feb 09, 2004 6:13 pm

Originally posted by Diaspora

It is very noticable the number of architects who do architectural technician first, work for a few years and return to complete their degree.
[/B]


Well it is my considered opinion on the matter, that this nasty aspect of architectural practice has been allowed to slip too far in the technicians favour - an architect employer will bend over backways to get a technician into his office for a couple of months in the summer - whereas a young architectural student doesn't seem to produce anything like the same response amongst employers.

A young unqualified technician is seen as 'an enabler'. I.e. "Architects saying, if I had a technician, I could do this, I could do that..."

Whereas a young architectural student is just viewed as a b**** and the subject of a kind of joke in the practice, if he/she does manage to make it in the door. Hence, Alan does have a strong point - to build, and put materials together you are normally talking 1:20 scale. Hence, why the young student architectural technician is seen as such as asset by an architect attempting to build something today here in Ireland.

Diaspora, Jack Coia a very important Scottish Architect of the mid twentieth century and recipient of the RIBA Gold medal once remarked that " any c*** can build using nine materials but it takes a master to use only three"

It's not technical expertise that I think is important but an understanding of how things go together that's needed. That can only come with time and having built.



Yet if you look at all Dun Laoire Carlisle pier drawings - some of the best ones were drawn at 1:3000 scale. WHich is almost a geographic scale, and my question is how does one single poor f***er like a young architectural student manage to fulfill both ends of the scale?

In other words, to know how to liase with geographers at one end of the scale, and master builders at the other end. Answer - no f***ing hope. Yet I know when I do job interviews this week, they will ask me "Now, Mr. O'Hanlon, where are your 1:20 drawings?"

So it brings us right back to where we started, why does there have to be a course called Architecture in 2004 in Ireland? I.e. Not the architectural technician courses, who like to call themselves architects, to the public who don't know any better.
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Postby FIN » Mon Feb 09, 2004 6:21 pm

that's ok. quite understandable. my sister also studied geography. she works for the dept. of env.
sorry i replied to that before i read the rest. u asked about a city geographyer or however it's spelt. again as i said in the other thread i would consider a consultant but a decision maker. it is just more red tape unfortunately.
i agree with alan. in general ( cos he mentioned 1 example against this) a lecturer/tutor/whatever has to have practical experience in the field. disapora. if he had even a few years in the field u would hope that he did build something as otherwise i would presume him/her to be conceptual or just plain crap. hard view i know but hey!
on the other points lads, i think that architectural students are regarded as not having the knowledge that a technician course gives someone. ie workability etc... i don't subscribe to this view but it seems to be part of the profession. employers seem to think that they will have to train from the start the unfortunate arch student while techies will know a lot more. it's true to a certain degree.
the drop out rate may be that the course is too long for some people. 5 years without earning is a lot. pressure is large to get a worthwhile job. etc...
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Postby garethace » Mon Feb 09, 2004 6:35 pm

I honestly do not think that experience 'in the field' has anything to do with it. I don't honestly believe that most of the guys who end up tutoring in colleges, have anything at all that expressly qualifies them as suitable candidates to try and impart any knowledge or understanding to do with built environment/architecture to a young student.

In other words, I think most tutors in the colleges would be better off not trying to teach at all and just stick to practicising. The most damning problem with an architectural course of all, is the lack or confusion over any clear curriculum. Various people in the departments of architecture, have different ideas about what the curriculum actually is - and no consideration is given to the student who has to bounce ping-pong style between years of the course in architecture, with totally different emphasis, or presentation formats on one thing or another.

I will argue this to the last, architectural courses should be about teaching a body of knowledge - like any other course is - not, about relying on the whims/preferences of some jackass professor 'with experience in the field' who drops in now and again. Education is not an amateur walk in the park any longer - as architects have seen it - but a serious business, where much time/resources and dreams of young people are tied up in.

Many of the 'experienced in the field' people who you refer to, have never even contemplated, never mind grasped the magnitude or extent of the commitment made by parents and young people embarking on a course like architecture. And for that reason alone are suitable candidates for termination in my humble opinion.

Prime example, it is possible to go through the senior years of architecture, without ever doing anything except a 1:100 scale presentation of a tiny interpretive centre like building in some field in Mayo, Donegal or Kerry.

It is unusal, but nonetheless possible and I have seen it happen numerous times, depending on the site chosen for the Travelling Scholarship etc, etc. Now, where is the experience or investigation of inner city, inner suburban or outer suburban environments? Answer: nowhere.

It is highly possible to qualify as 'an architect' without having developed any attitude or means to deal with various environments head on. Hence, my post about geographers/architects cooperating. Hence my discust at having to remember what painting Leonardo painted in 1510, but never having been to Ballymun or the Docklands, looking at problem at 1:3000 scale for instance - to constrast with that small interpretive centre project you may have done at 1:100.
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Postby PVC King » Mon Feb 09, 2004 6:35 pm

Quote "i think that architectural students are regarded as not having the knowledge that a technician course gives someone"

I think it is that technicians are regarded as having a focused knowledge that is easy to utilise.
Architecture students may be regarded as less focused in a narrow sense and there is the danger that they might expect training in more complicated areas of professional practice.

Quote "the drop out rate may be that the course is too long for some people. 5 years without earning is a lot"

The year I graduated the external examiner who met with us was shocked that none of us had done a six month placement.

Due to lack of funds I never did a summer as a skivy because I needed to work in the highest paid employment I could get, which wasn't my core discipline unfortunately.
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Postby garethace » Mon Feb 09, 2004 6:43 pm

Originally posted by Diaspora
Architecture students may be regarded as less focused in a narrow sense and there is the danger that they might expect training in more complicated areas of professional practice.
]


Sometimes they are referred to as, "being away with the fairies".

A sucession of bad experiences etc, has left architect employers with the firm conviction that a young architect student is really a waste of good space.

I repeat, the young architect, if lucky can sometimes progress through the entire five years, with more or less the same amount of knowledge contained within this thread:

http://www.archiseek.com/content/showthread.php?s=&threadid=2730

And also, may be entirely judged based upon the excellence of his/her grasp of those ideas alone. I.e. the brief to design an interpretive centre or other such rural, small scale abomination.

On the other hand, geographers with clearly defined curriculums have to study certain issues in a systematic, organised and definite manner - the achievement of each year in their course, meaning they have attained a specific level of understanding and knowledge.

The Reddy approach to architecture, interests me, as it opens up whole new territory to architects - not facilitated by the 'small interpretive centre approach' to education/qualification. But it needs to be taught sufficiently well, with supporting subjects in how to calculate FAR, plot ratios etc, etc - rather than ones aimed at either calculating U-Values or remembering the paintings of Rembrandt.

The danger with the Diaspora approach, is that he/she could just be discounted as an architect, who has read a lot of books. A talented amateur, an interested party, or charismatic spokes person, like Reddy, O'Laoire etc have managed to become, whereas a geographer has a real qualification.

Perhaps if Diaspora people were given lecturships in DIT/UCD architecture departments with the purpose of introduction of students to New Urbanism, and roudabouts etc - the employment attractiveness and flexibility and open-mindedness of young graduates could be greatly increased.
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Postby FIN » Mon Feb 09, 2004 6:53 pm

Originally posted by Diaspora
"

I think it is that technicians are regarded as having a focused knowledge that is easy to utilise.
Architecture students may be regarded as less focused in a narrow sense and there is the danger that they might expect training in more complicated areas of professional practice.

very true.

Originally posted by Diaspora
"
The year I graduated the external examiner who met with us was shocked that none of us had done a six month placement.


six months!! i would have thought it was compulsory to do a year out!
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Postby garethace » Mon Feb 09, 2004 6:59 pm

Originally posted by FIN

six months!! i would have thought it was compulsory to do a year out!


A year making the coffee or doing the photocopying is still not that much better than six months doing the same, if you are a young architecture student Fin. God, the things I have done in this regard, down through the years, when only feet away from me, there was a young technician with one year in college, 7 years younger than me, drawing up a whole building!

I think, the biggest kick in the face, was the summer I lost my summer employment for not knowing how to use MicroStation! I mean, of all the unsucessful anal cavity inspections, I have had to undergo for prospective short term employment, that was the most painful. Years later, and thousands spent on the trauma counselling! :) LOL!
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Postby FIN » Mon Feb 09, 2004 7:10 pm

my first day out...i was drawing up a housing estate! just gotta be lucky i suppose.
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Postby garethace » Mon Feb 09, 2004 7:14 pm

well, all I can suggest, is make the most of this online resource here when you can Fin.

Can't do any harm anyhow - and develop your critical facility and ability in discussion etc.
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Postby FIN » Mon Feb 09, 2004 7:17 pm

well nearly 5 years at it i am soon going back hopefully!
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Postby garethace » Mon Feb 09, 2004 7:21 pm

Originally posted by FIN
well nearly 5 years at it i am soon going back hopefully!


With a much stronger critical facility perhaps? I just got to be the tech geek in an office for a while - kind of as a panic reaction to the MicroStation episode - and then went back. Talk about a road runner style nose dive of trully epic proportions.
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Postby FIN » Mon Feb 09, 2004 7:28 pm

lol. absolutely and a greater understanding of the working of the business that i wouldn't have got from 20 years in college
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Postby garethace » Mon Feb 09, 2004 7:42 pm

True, I hope you can forge some of that benefit now, into some kind of razor-sharp intellectual tool that will allow you to carve into a new juicy college project Fin.

I know that is the proceedure, which I neglected far too much.
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Postby PVC King » Mon Feb 09, 2004 7:43 pm

Quote "absolutely and a greater understanding of the working of the business that i wouldn't have got from 20 years in college"

I agree,

You aren't going to college for the sake of going to college when you return. You'll be going back to find answers to a lot of the questions that are now in your head.

If general experience is anything to go by, you'll do very well when you go back.
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Postby garethace » Mon Feb 09, 2004 7:47 pm

Originally posted by Diaspora
If general experience is anything to go by, you'll do very well when you go back. [/B]


That is a danger indeed - since in practice it is all real sure. But in college, there are many simulated levels of reality in doing the average project submission.

I.e. Circulation of people, crowds, open space as part of the scheme, light as part of the architecture - trying to imagine these things - in an actual building, you conceive of on paper.

That is why I totally question the value of 'experienced tutors in the field' - as a college project is at best a place to use sharp tools of intellect to carve a very complex kind of simulation of the reality of a building on paper.

And tutors with plenty of actual 'field experience' can very quickly become impatient with the simulated artificiality of a college problem solving exercise, and try to impose some of the values of a real-world situation on what is really a synthetic exercise, designed only to teach a student about a specific layer or coincident layers of reality.
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Postby FIN » Mon Feb 09, 2004 7:49 pm

true but the ability to explain within the context of the real world instead of what u read is another great benefit
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Postby PVC King » Mon Feb 09, 2004 7:54 pm

Quote "That is a danger indeed - since in practice it is all real sure. But in college, there are many simulated levels of reality in doing the average project submission."

DIT stats would indicate that mature students outperform their peers significantly across a range of disciplines.

While not saying that an individual with relevant experience only has to turn up they are probably more focused than other under-graduates. They have also made a sacrifice to return to their studies.

The idea of stimulated levels is probably going to be more focused towards architecture than pints or other nocturnal endeavours.

The fact that a returnee has experience of the tech is also a major advantage as it frees up a lot of time to concentrate on the more theoretical aspects of the course which is not a luxury enjoyed by 21-23 year old under graduates who are still attempting to grasp the basics of the tech which can take years.

Real world experience also teaches one to be cynical and ask more questions.
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Postby garethace » Mon Feb 09, 2004 7:57 pm

but the ability to explain within the context of the real world instead of what u read is another great benefit


That is what I am saying, explain within the context of the real world - the idea of people circulating inside/outside/through a building - is something you can experience and observe yourself everywhere. The building or urban form happens and fits around this very real phenomena, not the other way around.

You cannot get more real than that in fact. All the Carlisle pier competition submissions explored ideas based around this. But the idea is rarely dealt with very well, by 'the field experienced tutors' in colleges, who normally do this unconsciously, intuitively if you will - not driving with their eyes open, but instead using the power of the force.

In college, things should I think be brought under the synthetic light of a scientific microscope - to be viewed by each and every individual in the class - like in those chemistry classes in school. Circulation can be treated like that, as can skins, openings, sense of enclosure - open public space etc, etc.

Good architects, in the field would entirely be discusted by that approach, saying it degrades what should be a poetic, mysterious process. But a poetic, mysterious attempt is not going to gain many marks in my experience.

And I am positive that Alvar Alto and Le Corbusier started off doing their architecture in a very synthetic, and not-so-poetic fashion. Just look at that domino house lproject by Le Corbusier if you don't believe me - an exercise in synthetic analysis if ever there was one - showing peoples' circulation and therefore experience of an architectural reality, like you would put it under a microscope for analysis.

O'Donnell and Tuomey Irish Pavillion similarly.

Yet, this synthetic rule or intellectual construct model, became a very real and poetic one, in villa savoie and other projects much later on. In order to break with the traditional form of buildings, he was forced to become a bit of a synthetic nerd for a while. The classical Beaux Arts thugs and 'quarter backs' probably even jeered at the young, spotty Le Corbusier starting out in Paris of the 1920s.

You might even argue, that the Villa Savoie, still holds some of this early synthetic nerdiness, but if you look at the SOM entry for Dun Laoire Carlisle pier, it shows that the villa savoie concept about architecture has indeed matured down through the years, and become something very real and very useful too.

In short what begun with almost Lab-like analysis of reality, by one rebelious amateur architectural tweaker, has become the main business of architectural super power industries like the Skidmore, Owenings and Merrill of this world - the equivalent in scale of Intel in the chip world.

Le Corbusier could see in 1920s, that buildings would become places where massive crowds of well-to-do middle classes would come to visit on weekends etc. Therefore he chose to look to things like huge Atlantic liners etc, and learn how they used decks, etc, to cope with crowds of people.

The old Beaux Arts design, simple wasn't able to cut the mustard anymore. :) That is what the SOM entry for carlisle pier proves to me now today. That a semi-beached ocean liner, can in fact, become quite a decent piece of commercial architecture. And it has been a long, long, long day since Le Corbusier first iterated those words in Ver une Architecture.

Advising the young prospective architect to look at those huge big ships in the harbour, to study how they work, and are governed by efficiency not old formulaic rubbish like Beaux Arts architectural training.
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Postby PVC King » Mon Feb 09, 2004 8:44 pm

Quote "That is what I am saying, explain within the context of the real world - the idea of people circulating inside/outside/through a building - is something you can experience and observe yourself everywhere. The building or urban form happens and fits around this very real phenomena, not the other way around."

That to me would be sufficient reason for the existence of City Architects.

Specialisation is in my opinion a natural process of society filtering particular human qualities amd directing them to the area that suits them best.

An architect could have a perfect grasp of how other peoples buildings and building styles work in different urban settings but not be great designers on a micro level.

Conversely some designers can create amazing buildings visually and in terms of usability once the initial scoping exercise has been completed, but not have the intuition where to best site their creations.

That is why I am a little disapointed that there has been so little discussion on the Carlisle pier thread.
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Postby garethace » Mon Feb 09, 2004 10:18 pm

Originally posted by Diaspora
That to me would be sufficient reason for the existence of City Architects.[/B]


Can you even imagine a geographer having done 4 years in Trinity and 2 years planning elsewhere, being asking to look at the Carlisle pier entries from a point of view of villa savoie. :) Not even my very vivid imagination would care to stretch quite that far. However, I still believe, that when it comes to calculating plot ratios and really putting wheels into motion, in searching for sustainable forms of high density development, then we have no other choice as architects than to work hand in hand with those other disiplines.

Personally, I spent years getting tutition in Bolton Street in how to see the building as stresses and strains, materials and construction realities. Whereas, it wasn't until I began to discover it was the people moving, circulating and moving inside/outside/through a building, which actually define the architecture - not the actual physical building itself. That is, what I mean about simulated realities. You cannot prove that people circulate in your building, the same way as you can quantify and discuss the compressive strength of materials and jointing systems etc. But for my money, the circulation is will have much more of an impact on the architect's end of the design than the structure.

You cannot compile a module of course material on pedestrian circulation, and get someone to lecture it, as easy as you can ask the engineering department to provide one of their guys to do a class in stresses and strains etc. Yet as a profession we have to try and do a better job in the education side of things. But I can see how educational establishments, might prefer to take the service industry route and just order in take-away support lecturing course material - in the form of civ studies, law studies, U-values, stresses and strains, design tech, .... just because we have become either too tired, fed up or god damn too bone lazy to compile our own relevant course material.

That is what you get in DIT anyhow - the bread and water diet of architectural training. But hardly enough to sustain oneself as a really top designer. I have no doubt, that is why technician can just breeze through the course too.

That is why I am a little disapointed that there has been so little discussion on the Carlisle pier thread


I nearly have my report of the exhibition completed, will post it soon as I can. Consider the above a preview, and as you have already pointed out, makes a very valid point, in the city geographer/city architect debate right here.

But still, you will probably find even more and better discussion about the Carlisle pier, than you ever will on the mandatory two page spread in the Irish Architect, mostly showing pictures, the ten second RTE news slot, or the column Frank will now doubt pen in the Irish Times on Thursday.

Frank is just another example of a non-architect trained person, who has done his absolutely utmost to understand the built environment, but again, underlines, that advantage of having dedicated professionals who have gone to DIT/UCD and done the long haul. I am waiting to see what Frank will do in the Times, but I can assure you, my Carlisle report will whip nine colours of s*** our of his, any day of the week.
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Postby garethace » Mon Feb 09, 2004 11:02 pm

Originally posted by alan d
unequivocal Diaspora......as usual

Cities without City Architect:

Barcelona, Rotterdam, Paris, Berlin, Oporto, Manchester, London, New York, Tokyo, Sydney, Chicago, Glasgow, Copenhagen, Madrid, Rome, Toronto, Lyon, Stuttgart, Athens, Rio................



A good exampleof where geographers and architects might combine?

Normally this kind of density is reserved for bad hotel developments here in Ireland. Which american firms of architects designed and had fine tuned down to the very last quarter of an inch. A quarter of an inch over size = less profit in other words.

But why do cities like paris, berlin, barcelona, amsterdam, london, helsinki etc manage these densities and we never can?

The sort of thing which drove Temle Bar development style.

Which, I believe was new at the time here in Ireland. What I mean was, the market demanded something like that at the time, and the cooperation of all disiplines noticed this and acted together at the right time.
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Postby PVC King » Tue Feb 10, 2004 12:01 am

Quote "Can you even imagine a geographer having done 4 years in Trinity and 2 years planning elsewhere, being asking to look at the Carlisle pier entries from a point of view of villa savoie"

Yes they are better travelled than most groups and only someone with an interest in architecture would take on Town Planning. No planning course brochure tells you about the boring stuff like plot ratios, coverage and other yardsticks that takes the fun out of the process. Instead many trained in future planning end up adjudicating their lives away

Quote "it wasn't until I began to discover it was the people moving, circulating and moving inside/outside/through a building, which actually define the architecture - "

That unfortunate reality can only be solved by more overseas lectures on class breaks to places such as Barcelona and Milan where those theories can be explained graphically and I think that students are far more receptive to new ideas when away from the college and the usual student politics.

Quote "you will probably find even more and better discussion about the Carlisle pier, than you ever will on the mandatory two page spread in the Irish Architect, mostly showing pictures, the ten second RTE news slot,"

I agree absolutely, but I suppose space is the over-riding concern with main stream media and if they don't use most of it with the pictures the public don't see anything they can really relate to. Thanks Paul Archeire/seek is a pleasure. :D
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Postby garethace » Tue Feb 10, 2004 1:15 pm

That unfortunate reality can only be solved by more overseas lectures on class breaks to places such as Barcelona and Milan where those theories can be explained graphically and I think that students are far more receptive to new ideas when away from the college and the usual student politics.


Excuses, excuses, excuses. . . I totally disagree with you. It is high time we woke ourselves up in this country to some basic realities, and called a spade, a spade. Rather than this 'lets rear our young purely on a diet of broken biscuits' kind of formula. So maybe just allow me to just encapsulate the situation for you.

The unfortunate result of the above point of view, is that many architectural students may have walked around more of Barcelona, Amsterdam and Paris, than they have done of their own city here in Dublin. With no motivation or hunger to try and explore the cities we live/use here in Ireland. Or even try to imagine how they could be improved. Hence, I think why geographers have always managed to win the key positions in planning departments etc - literally because architects show no interest in those areas.

This treatment of our own city as unsuitable for study, is a major stumbling block in my opinion. With the said temptation as I have already pointed out, to treat architecture school just as a place to design 1:100 scale flash presentations of an interpretive centre somewhere on the coast of Mayo or the Aran Islands. Then draw a detailed section of it at 1:20 and almost mandatory 3DS VIZ render. What else can you do, without adequate quality, intensive supporting lecture content in geography, architectural concepts and urbanism?

I mean, I listed out the 'take-away' attitude to supporting subjects in DIT. It was the equivalent of parents saying to their kids, here is a fiver, I am going to the pub and am too lazy to make any dinner, so go around the corner to the chipper instead.

In fact, if you ripped out the guts of the DIT course and examined it, you would probably find that less than 10% of the 'taught' course material was compiled for architects, by architects. That was the price the course really had to pay, for tying itself far too closely to an institution full of carpenters, plumbers and decorators such as Bolton Street.

Yeah, the argument promoted by the Department heads down through the years, has been 'that architects have a broad education'. But after a while you can begin to believe your own marketing bullshit a bit too much. In a similar way, to what DIT uses on its brochures, "Dublin city is our campus". An abomination most likely created by some overpaid PR consultant 20 years ago, and we are all still stuck with.

The truth of the matter, is that DIT just managed to cobble together an architectural course content out of virtually nothing, in very hard times, and that same said course content still had the advantage it happened to be just 'good enough' for youngsters taking the boat to England back in the 1980s. But don't try and sell all of that, to anyone with any intelligence, as 'architects have a broad education'. Since it is like saying that kids who live on chips and burgers have a high nutritional diet.

Architects needed to be technologists, was certainly promoted by the 'I can get a job in London anytime I want' crew so powerful in DIT all through the 1980s and early 1990s - the big rugby club type that is who owned the very first mobile phones. In fairness to the architectural education system here, it was mainly facing itself toward Holyhead, for the past quarter of a century. You have to give it that - in a kind of five nations/the roar of landsdowne road, nine kegs of porter consumption kind of way.

It is a new day now and it is high time we re-visit that. It is more like lattes and cappucinos now, instead of porter. But that idea of Holyhead in architectural education, the smell of stale Guinness, still has managed to linger on, possibly for the sake of the few cronies still left in BS, clinging onto the memories of the emigration era. "We'll change it when they are gone, kind of approach". Despite the fact, that the playing pitch has changed utterly - now I am competing here in Ireland against Italians, French and Germans for the said architectural jobs - and getting my arse booted into oblivion too I might add.

It is Italians, French and Germans, not to mention Fins, British, Spanish and god knows how many Poles or South Africans who are designing the future reality of Ireland's built environment. It is like the world cup for architects out there - except the Irish are the only ones who didn't manage to qualify. Did anyone even tell DIT there is a Tournament? Not to mind, being at the ball park.

DIT architecture course in Bolton Street still to a massive extent, awaits it's Jack Charlton, "We'll put 'em under pressure". Just crank out them funky 'The Edge on electric guitar' rifts man! And bring on those big green inflatable shamrocks!

How many entries by established Irish practices were there for the Carlisle Pier competition? I don't even mean winning entries, just a spirited challenge might even do. You would imagine, that of all the old nags we have quietly munching away through bags of oates in stables, we could at least have put out one good horse for the race. Imagine it has taken a two person firm from New York city, to come back here to make us wake up even slightly. Thankyou H/P for the Carlisle pier entry!

Brian O' Hanlon.
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