Project Idea Bank 2016: St. Joseph’s Castlebar, Mayo
Posted by admin, July 20, 2016

Key Facts_

School: St Jospeh’s Castlebar, Mayo

Teacher: Niamh Sweeney

Architect: Orla Murphy

No. of students: 18 Girls

Break up of workshop: 6 weeks, 7 visits

When it took place: 06.02.’16-07.04.’16


St. Joseph’s Castlebar, what we did!

As Saint Joseph’s prepares itself for a new extension in 2016, students analysed the school they and their peers know so well and responded to the design question: what change would you make to the school to make it fantastic?


Learning space; Public Space; Inside to Outside

Main Activities:

Mappingand analysis; User Survey; Design; Drawing; Model Making

Curricular links:

Art, Design and communication graphics; History; Geography; Construction; English


Observation; mapping; research; team work; model making; photography; idea generation; critical thinking; user surveys; interviewing; presentation


Project Theme_ Learning Landscapes!


What makes good space for learning? How does an analysis of existing space inform how me might make better spaces to learn, teach and enjoy.  Consider the importance of daylighting, clear organisation of space, connections from outside to in, spaces to unwind, relax, eat and come together.


St Josephs 1


St Josephs 2St Josephs 3


Architect’s perspective:

I was really impressed by the insight the students had into their own spatial environment. I learned that we often don’t listen to this insight and that it would be really useful to engage more effectively with young people in planning schools, buildings for health and public space.  I learned that the process is as important as the product, and that I had to try to quickly tune into students’ skills (writing/thinking/drawing/orgnanising). Teaching a new cohort is always challenging but also rewarding. However, this programme helped me reaffirm some of the core elements of spatial design: daylight, connection to nature, comfort, accessibility, good organisation. It also reminded me how charming, kind, fun and smart young people are.

Orla Murphy (architect)


St Josephs 4



Over the course of six weeks students were tasked with analysing the spaces of their school with a critical eye, identifying the assets, challenges and opportunites and surveying their peers about what they might change. They then worked in 4 groups to brainstorm a project brief in response to this analysis.  In the last 3 sessions they learned to design through 2D drawing to scale and in 3D model to explore their proposals. In the last session they curated their work and exhinited and presented it to staff and students.

St Josephs 5St Josephs 6

St Josephs 7St Josephs 8

St Josephs 10

Get In Touch
For more information contact:

Irish Architecture Foundation
15 Bachelors Walk
Dublin 1

+353 1 874 7205
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