Local architect, John Curran has been working with Transition Year students at Loreto Community School as part of the National Architect in Schools Initiative.
The initiative is organised by the Irish Architecture foundation (IAF), and the idea is to give students hands-on design experience under the guidance of local architects.
The IAF is working in partnership with the national network of Teachers’ Education Centres to train and resource both architects and teachers. Five Education Centres, in Cork, Donegal, Dublin, Galway and Wexford are acting as regional hubs for the initiative which takes place in 25 schools nationwide.
The programme allows architects to steer the students as they came up with great ideas to analyse their build surroundings and identify areas that they would like to improve, and then to help them come up with imaginative suggestions and solutions.
John Curran and teacher Padraig Curley began by dividing the students into groups and asked them to look at the village of Milford, and in particular how their school is located in relation to the village centre. After that, the groups looked at ways of strengthening the links between the school and the centre, in the process developing ideas about how to regenerate disused buildings and spaces in and around Milford.
The architect’s role was to provide the support that would allow the groups to draw conclusions from their analysis, and to go on and design the kind of buildings and places they’d like to see in Milford. Students let their imaginations run loose, and pushed the boundaries as much as they wanted. They weren’t informed that their buildings might cost too much and finding adequate funding may be a problem! The purpose really was to develop their vision and encourage their creativity.
The end products were amazing. Students came up with great ideas to generate a buzzing, vibrant, and colourful Milford. All these ideas, plans and model buildings were presented to a large, interested audience in the Regional Cultural Centre in Letterkenny.