Aileen Lee sits down with Cork architect Michael Carroll.
What’s your background?
I completed an Architectural Technology course in CIT and then worked in Limerick and Dublin. I returned to study and completed the RIBA Certificate in Architecture and the RIBA Diploma in Architecture through Oxford Brookes University, completing my Professional Diploma in Architecture in University College Dublin. I then moved to Cork in 2011 whilst working for myself and subsequently established Horgan Carroll Architects with my colleague, Paul Horgan.
What’s a typical work day like for you?
We are involved in designing a wide variety of work, including domestic, fit-out, health care, refurbishments, extensions and conservation. Each project could be at a different stage, so a typical day could include anything from sketching early concept designs to meetings on-site with builders, to meeting new clients to discuss potential projects.
Tell us about a recentproject or design/ favourite project or design you have worked on?
Two projects stand out that we completed recently — the first was a fit-out for Sage restaurant in Midleton. We were assisting the owners with the redesign.
The second project was working with the MY Place voluntary community group in Midleton on the refurbishment of the old derelict fire station, designing a new community space to the highest standard of energy efficiency. MY Place now provides a dedicated youth space incorporating a café, recreation area, music room and arts space.
What’s your design style?
We try to take our design cues from each project, site, the surroundings and clients themselves. We are always conscious of the huge responsibility we carry as architects towards a sustainable built environment.
What/Who inspires your work?
Ultimately it is our clients who inspire us — they give us their trust to bring a project to life. We also draw inspiration from other architects, especially Irish architects, who we believe are world leaders in the profession.
When you see how architecture touches every individual on a daily basis, whether that is work, sleep or leisure, I often wonder why the profession doesn’t engage the public imagination on the same scale as some of the other arts.
I work with transition year students each year and together we visit and take time to observe some of the fantastic architecture on our own doorstep — it’s amazing what you see if you just look up sometimes!
What’s your favourite trend at the moment (if you have any)?
I’m not that interested in trends. We prefer to examine the project on its own merits, getting to know the occupants and their needs.
What’s your mosttreasured possession?
I am currently in the middle of building what will hopefully be my most treasured possession. We are renovating and extending a small cottage near Midleton creating a new family home. I also have a number of old pieces of family furniture that we are currentlyrestoring so hopefully we can enjoy both in thenot-too-distant furniture.
Who would be your favourite designer, or style inspiration?
I’m not sure I have any one particular favourite designer but rather take inspiration from a variety of architects, buildings and spaces. Whilst in college we visited the chapel of Notre Dame du Haut in Ronchomp by Le Corbusier — an inspirational space. I also admire architects such as Sam Mockbee, who helped create homes for those that could not afford them, using architecture to provide ‘shelter for the soul’.
What would be a dream project for you to work on?
I am lucky with the variety of projects that Horgan Carroll Architects are involved with. I also work with transition-year students through the DRAW programme and the National Architects in Schools initiative promoted by the Irish Architecture Foundation (IAF). I have also been involved in exhibitions such as Slow Architecture — all of which were extremely rewarding.
Have you any design tips for us?
I advise clients to have an open mind when working with an architect. It is important to examine the brief and decide what you believe you want from a space — let your architect then interpret this brief, you might be pleasantly surprised with what they propose.