Emmett Scanlon & Deirdre McKenna

image: Hertzberger - Delft Montessori School

Workshop Description:

This workshop intends to investigate the social, economic, physical and architectural issues of the contemporary primary school in Ireland. Working from a specific school in Tallaght, West Dublin, with a specific population of children of 41 differing nationalities, a real client body and an engaging local community, the workshop will aim to make highly specific proposals for a new primary school for Tallaght. The school will provide for over 550 pupils and staff. By addressing the particularities of this school and its situation, the workshop aims to extend its considerations and positions from the specific out, in order to contribute to the much wider debate on the role of architecture in the provision of Irish schools.

This debate is not currently happening. At present, a majority of schools are procured and built via economically driven systems, systems which arguably cannot accommodate the social, cultural or local. Yet, as architects we must respond to critical concerns of economy through both organisation and construction; economy of space, of structure, of material and of energy. The challenge lies in how we might reconcile these concerns with a fundamental idea of architecture, that we are indelibly marked by the quality of the spaces in which we are educated.

Architects are best placed to lead this discussion, and we ask to you lead it.

The project has been sponsored by the School and by Roankabin. Funding will be available to further develop all or some of the projects into an exhibitable format or publication. Explorative methods of communication and representation will be encouraged.

The Primary School intend to have an exhibition of the work in late 2009.

The workshop is open to all. A school brief, site plan and site information will be provided, and the project will run for 6 weeks (between Monday July 6th and Friday August 15th) with some set outcome criteria. A loose format will allow weekly guests to discuss issues around school provision in Ireland, alongside issues of social structures in schools, integration and public engagement. A series of site visits will also run in parrallel; to the School, to community facilities in Tallaght and to several notable Irish schools.

Participants are invited to work as individuals or in pairs, but this must be specified on application.

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If you would like to apply for this workshop please contact the organisers at the following email address:

learningspaceworkshop (at)

About the organisers:
Deirdre McKenna was born Belfast and studied architecture at Queen’s University Belfast and University College Dublin. She has worked in architecture practice in London , Dublin and Belfast . Her work has been exhibited nationally and was included in Lisbon Architecture Triennale, 2007. Since 2008 she has been a studio tutor at UCD.
Emmett Scanlon founded Cast Architecture with Sarah Cremin in 2006. He is architectural advisor to the arts council and is currently managing a research project into public engagement with architecture on their behalf. He is the Irish correspondent for A10 with Sarah Cremin. He has been teaching at UCD since 1999 and was appointed lecturer in architecture in 2006