First Update from St Joseph’s in Dublin 7
Posted by admin, December 18, 2013

Check out this update from St Joseph’s in Dublin 7!
by Evelyn D’Arcy who is working with a Transition Year student group at the school as part of the National Architects in Schools Initiative


We spent our first session talking about what architecture means. I showed some embarrassing photos of me in my student days, in a messy studio full of paper! We talked a little about the job of an architect and some of the girls had met architects before, when work was done on their family homes. Together we did some internet research, looking up some inspiring buildings of all types. It was sometimes a little difficult to explain why we like buildings, but some great suggestions about the idea of symmetry and light were made.

The girls found great buildings of all types such as the surreal “Free Spirit Sphere” tree houses you can stay in, in Canada, the futuristic Underwater Hotel in Dubai by Hauser, as well as more familiar buildings like the Customs House in Dublin and the Sydney Opera House. Everybody recorded the names and details of the buildings in their design journals.

Spherical Treehouse

Free Spirit Sphere” tree houses in Canada

Once the girls had found three buildings they worked in groups, showing each other their buildings and talking a little about why they liked them. Homework! The girls were to pick a place they liked or didn’t like, like and describe it in their journal – in a drawing, in words or in whatever way they wanted to.

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Customs House in Dublin, Underwater Hotel in Dubai and the Sydney Opera House



Today we began our session by working in groups and showing each other the places we like. I talked a little about the Berkely Library in Trinity College and showed some pictures I’d drawn. Most of the girls chose the place that was most familiar to them – their bedrooms. They had some lovely sketches showing where all the furniture was, and some notes about the different things they liked about them.

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Berkely Library in Trinity College

Some other places were chosen too. One girl talked about the library in the school and two others showed drawings of the hallways in their houses, which was very interesting as one said she loved her hallway and the other said she hated hers! We had a good discussion about what things help us like/ not like places. The list we came up with was: light, colour, the materials it’s made of, its size and its use.

We talked then about the classroom we were in, which is the “base room” the girls return to a number of times a day, to collect notebooks, meet with teachers and store bags and coats. We started to think about this room in terms of the list we’d come up with. The girls worked in groups to make drawings of the room, thinking about all the things on the list, as well as how each of them used the room – where their desk and locker was and where they moved about the room in any given day.

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Classroom drawings

The drawings show some great thinking about how to represent things like light, shade and movement! Everybody agreed that it had some good things, like its size and shape, but that the light was pretty bad and the colour was very boring!

Homework! Each group chose another room in the school to describe in the same way: the canteen, the library, the hallway and the reception area.



The girls started the session today by making short presentations to the class on the spaces they’d drawn and talking about the things that were good and bad about them. Some good practice in speaking in public which can be a little nerve-wracking! We added the drawings to the quickly-growing collection on the wall in the classroom.

Our investigation of space grew today, with a class survey on how each girl gets to school. Many are lucky enough to be able to walk as they live nearby but one girl makes an hour trip each way, all the way in from Finglas!

We talked about how the school is connected to the community, both physically and in the relationships of the people and the girls described a great project they’ve worked on recently – working with a senior citizens’ residence nearby to improve their garden with plants and seating – which seems like a great way to get to know the local people!

The school building itself is up a laneway, away from the main street but surrounded on three sides by a primary school, a convent and other buildings so it feels quite cosy and quiet.

We took our research outside, to look at and think about the external appearance of the school and how it relates to what’s around it. The girls agreed it is much newer than the buildings around it, but that it is a long, flat and maybe boring building by comparison! We went into a basketball court that isn’t used anymore and made some sketches from there. We talked about where the girls can go during their lunch if it’s sunny outside and they said that they never really spend much time outside as there isn’t anywhere to go – only a few benches along the walls.

Nearly time to finish up and there was one last experiment to think about the school and how we use it. The girls took turns to lead each other back to the classroom, blindfolded! That made for lots of giggles and some frantic directions but everyone made it back in one piece, including up a very long staircase! Thankfully everybody survived and were able to report that the school is not a very easy place to get around if you are missing your eyesight to help you.


Get In Touch
For more information contact:

Irish Architecture Foundation
15 Bachelors Walk
Dublin 1

+353 1 874 7205
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