It’s 8pm mid summer. All is quite, the workmen have gone home. I am alone in the new space. There is movement behind the curved wall; kids playing on the square, people and cars passing occasionally. Already I get the sense of protection the curved wall will offer although for now I hear the sounds. There is a big distraction through the sun rays glowing in the space. It’s exciting. As architects we design these spaces, we imagine what they will look like and feel like, we anticipate the effects of light throughout the day, we consider the views and carefully select the materials. The process is a long one and for a long time it is in our imagination. So we create it and we own it. Until such time when it is built. And even during that process it is still ours until just about now. This evening it still feels like mine even though I know from now on I’ll be handing it over.
The foundations are in, the wall is going up and its beginning to attract attention!
1st week on-site. Willie McGrath (man with hard-hat) of McGrath Construction built the houses of this estate 10 years ago. A passer-by stated ‘you built the place now you’re taking it apart!’
I remember our journeys by boat to Dromineer situated on the shores of Lough Derg in North Tipperary. Note the Castle visible in the background!
Three decades on it is almost entirely taken over by ivy. This is partially because a fence was put around the structure preventing the ivy from being kept down by the grazing of animals.
Presently our waste goes into landfill sites. Thank you to Michael of North Tipperary County Council Landfill who gave me a guided tour.
I learnt that the waste gets filled and wrapped in thick membrane material which is welded together. When full it gets closed up and a layer of earth is spread over it.
But the story doesn’t end here.
The ability to design requires abstraction. It requires that you remove yourself from associations. For example, below is a series of watercolours painted in Georgia O’Keefee Country in New Mexico featured in my book Placing Architecture. They describe a progression, from left to right, of my letting go of what I understood the canyon edge to be until reaching the point when I began to paint purely what I saw.
My intention in driving up into the Silvermines region in North Tipperary was to gather material on cottage decorations. I was intrigued by previous trips because up until then I had seen cottages as bare essentials – walls, windows, door and roof. But cut off in the heart of the Silvermines the people have decorated their cottages in all sorts of different and appealing ways. Here are just some examples.
As I drove deeper and deeper into the region I came across one abandoned house after another; single dwellings, whole farms, schools, even a factory. On one stretch of road I counted over 10 ruins. It was overwhelmingly sad.
Congratulations to the organizers, supporters and many swimmers today who jumped into the Shannon at Youghal Quay in aid of TLC4CF (Tipperary Limerick Clare for Cystic Fibrosis). Frozen toes after the swim was the only suffering we had to bear.
I want to tell you about a beautifully restored church I visited in Brosna, Co. Kerry. The visit was uplifting. The unusual thing was that all the materials were spot on!
As the winter solstice occurs, I welcome you to the first lines of my blog. I would like to wish you a Merry Christmas and the very best for the coming year.