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The recent news that Grafton Architects had won the competition to design a significant new building for the London School of Economics was almost unsurprising. In many ways, the past few years have been good for architects working out of Ireland. Grafton’s co-founders, Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara, were the recipients of the Jane Drew Prize last year, while O’Donnell Tuomey took the Riba Royal Gold Medal. In fact, it is not unusual for Irish firms to contend against one another, as well as against international “stars”, in the shortlists for major prizes.
The level of debate about architecture has flourished in Ireland over the past decade. This might be traced partly to a more widespread interest in the human-made environment, but it has also been helped by certain initiatives. These include the Arts Council’s funding of projects that address architectural culture, the RIAI Simon Open Door campaign and the work of the Irish Architecture Foundation (IAF), which promotes public engagement with architecture and organises the annual Open House weekend and the National Architects in Schools Initiative.
For those interested in thinking and learning about architecture, the next month is particularly exciting, with debates, symposiums and other events being held over an intense few weeks. For example, this weekend sees a series of traditional building skills demonstrations and talks in Galway, while the annual Historic Houses of Ireland conference is on Tuesday and Wednesday in Maynooth. […]