Donegal calling…
Posted by admin, March 26, 2014

Students from Magh Ene College Bundoran have been working with architect Patrick Dunne


We’ve been holding the architecture module on Monday mornings in Bundoran. Our main aim is to look at the design element of architecture; to study a place and look for what could be different, what could be improved. Without criticising, suggesting improvement.

The first session was about what architects do. Paddy talked about his own work and gave a slideshow of the progression of architecture through the ages. Good examples of architecture from the Neolithic, Early Christian, and very recent times can be found locally.

For inspiration students selected projects such as the recently restored church in Bundoran, the Titanic Museum, the Roman Collosseum at Tarragona, Spain and even the architectural form of the Niagra falls.

For studies of spaces students chose parts of the school or conducted studies of the living spaces in their own homes. The challenge was to describe, through drawing, spaces which they know very well. I asked them to get onto paper, enough information to describe the space to someone who was unfamiliar with it. I showed a study of my own office, in a restored castle, which needed sketches, plans and rubbings to show its character.

design journal

Studies of the school focused on the concourse, a large indoor gathering area with a snug for leaving cert students, and balconies overlooking from the upper floors. Problems were identified such as narrow corridors and some rooms without enough light. Positives were noted such as the clever design of the roof which allows light into all classrooms from two directions.

We spent a class walking the grounds. Students made observations on the successes of the building, and noted great potential in the large areas of underutilised land surrounding the building. We noted the different uses of space in the sunny parts of the site and the darker parts.


Students explained the strong psychological associations with the school; though spaces were bright and airy the building is associated with schoolwork which was not enjoyed. Suggestions were made to include space and resources for more leisure activities in and around the building.

To map the school we used large plans of the floors, photographs, sketches, and maps. The aim was to put all the written information from the design journals into the form of drawings. The compositions were marked up with notes of where the favourite places were to meet, where the sun shone and where gave shelter from the climate of the exposed Atlantic coast. While everyone worked on the studies, over several classes, I went from group to group, showing information on interesting buildings which had been highlighted by discussions to date. Many students, through interest in sports had studied stadiums such as Croke Park and Braga Stadium in Portugal, where the building of one end of the stadium into a cliff face means that the ball will always come back!


We have now begun to consider ideas for our design proposal. Many students like to surf, skateboard and live active lifestyles. Bundoran town is filled with adventure activities. They would like to see integration between academic and lifestyle activities. I am excited to see what they invent…

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