Birr School featured in Architectural Design special issue on Social Value in Architecture

July 27th, 2020

Our project for the conservation of Birr Community School in County Offaly is featured in the July 2020 issue of Architectural Design (AD) on the theme of Social Value in Architecture, guest edited by Flora Samuel and Eli Hatleskog. Funded by the Getty Foundation under their program of Keeping it Modern grants to conserve important works of modern architecture, our research project was carried out with Professors Gary Boyd and Greg Keeffe of Queens University in Belfast for the Department of Education and Science. The school building is an exemplar of twentieth century architecture in Ireland and was winner of the RIAI Gold Medal for the period 1980-82 and was exhibited as part of the Pavilion of Ireland at the Venice Architecture Biennale 2014 that we co-curated and designed with Professor Boyd. We evaluated the significance of the school by looking at the ways that the technical performance and social life of the building overlap and reinforce each other. This work will result in a new Conservation Management Plan for the school to guide its’ future development. The conservation management plan shows ways that the building could be given a deep energy retrofit while still conserving important features and original details. The intention of the work is to show how a whole generation of late twentieth century buildings can be adapted to reduce energy consumption but conserve the energy embodied in their structures following the principle that “the most sustainable buildings are the ones that we have already”

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