IT Sligo has achieved an international seal of approval for a specialist architectural degree that focuses on what is expected to be a growing need in Ireland – the transformation of buildings from traditional purposes to contemporary and sustainable re-use.
With most future construction predicted to involve existing buildings, repurposing is likely to create new jobs in the hard-pressed building sector.
The Institute of Technology Sligo has now become the first higher education institution on the island of Ireland to offer an Interior Architecture degree that is formally accredited by the architecture profession.
The coveted “Part 1” validation for the Institute’s BA (Hons) in Interior Architecture comes from the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA).
The accreditation was announced at a major exhibition of student Architecture and Design projects which was attended by leading Irish and other European figures in architecture.
Selma Harrington, President of the Architects Council of Europe, gave the keynote address and other speakers included Ciaran Mackel, a former President of the Royal Society of Ulster Architects.
Part of the exhibition included a multidisciplinary project with teams of students from Interior Architecture, Construction Project Management, Civil Engineering, Quantity Surveying, Marketing and Tourism replicating a functioning design team working together on a real-life project.
The RIBA validation was hailed as a major boost for Architecture at IT Sligo.
Bernadette Donohoe, who is Programme Chair for Interior Architecture at the Institute, said: “The RIBA is the leading international body in the field of architecture and this development is highly significant for the IT Sligo’s Interior Architecture programme and its students, and the future of architecture in Ireland.”
The accolade also means that IT Sligo Institute is now the only centre in the West of Ireland that has a RIBA validated Architecture degree.
Trevor McSharry, Head of the Department of Civil Engineering and Construction, at IT Sligo, said: “I am delighted that our programme has been formally recognised by this prestigious professional body of architects.
“Re-use and retrofitting of existing buildings will lead to significant employment in the future. In fact some of our new graduates are already being snapped up for jobs.”
Interior Architecture is a relatively young specialism that enables traditional premises which served a specific purpose to be repurposed for a new contemporary function while also retaining their character in their surrounding environment.
It differs from mainstream architecture in that it focuses on the potential for repurposing, restoring and “reimagining” existing buildings. It prolongs a building’s lifespan, preserves its streetscape or landscape setting and is an alternative to progressive deterioration or demolition.
Bernadette Donohoe added: “A regionally-informed, relevant and outward-looking ethos has always been a key vision for IT Sligo.
“For too long, the tendency in Ireland has been to knock down existing buildings to make way for new ones, with little consideration for the urban fabric, conservation of our heritage and the carbon footprint that building a new structure leaves.
“The vast majority of all future construction work is estimated to involve existing buildings. Interior architecture is set to come into its own now that the rapid building boom has ceased and people are beginning to take a more considered and sustainable approach towards building development.”
IT Sligo pioneered Interior Architecture 15 years ago. Its programme was the first to achieve recognition by the European Council of Interior Architects.
RIBA Part 1 qualification facilitates students in advancing their professional careers and education in Architecture and is a stepping stone to the next RIBA international quality benchmark (RIBA Part II).
Caption for top photo: Selma Harrington, President of the Architects Council of Europe, giving the keynote address at the exhibition of student Architecture and Design projects at IT Sligo.
Caption for bottom photo: James Huxley (left), of the Graduate Class in Interior Architecture at IT Sligo, receives the award for “Outstanding Performance in Design Studio” from Trevor McSharry, Head of the Department of Civil Engineering and Construction, at the exhibition of student Architecture and Design projects.