Another generation of children were herded from the protective, cottage-core surrounds of rural national schools to be ingested by the brutalist facades typical of the mid to late 20th-century secondary school. It was, for many, an overwhelming, oppressive experience where anything might happen to you in the yawning concrete and glass spaces conjured by adults for adult control.
One thing these later institutions (largely denominational) did offer — was light. It might have been single glazed (we boiled under solar gain, or froze from October) but even the most corporate bunkers in the international “modern style” were brighter, purpose-built and more flexible than the heritage mausoleums manipulated to educational ends.
Themes jump to life in the mind-altering discipline of journaling — circulation, materials, symmetry, and scale. In the growing Climate Crisis, it’s a motivating challenge for these designers to set out a new vision, integrating sustainable green materials and the radical new technologies needed to construct and run both homes and cavernous, public spaces.
Could Mikolaj see a future in architecture as a career? “I was always interested in architecture, but this programme has made me look into it much more. I’ve never really had the chance to do anything related in school until the programme which was great fun.”
Majella Walsh, of Cork-based, Litema Architecture and Design, was inspired by the creativity, critical thinking, skill and lively debate amongst her hard-working team. “Students were asked to design their future home. These ranged from an inward-looking courtyard home based around a pool, to an orange home hidden in a forest, to a security-conscious homeowner’s yellow home on stilts.
- Architects in Schools is funded by the Arts Council, the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage and the Department of Education and Skills. See architecturefoundation.ie. The exhibition at INM, Turlough Park, Castlebar, Co Mayo, runs until June 30. Entry is free, see museum.ie.