Context 163 - March 2020

30 C O N T E X T 1 6 3 : M A R C H 2 0 2 0 Establishing a good relationship with the department’s Architectural Policy and Protection Unit (Built Heritage Section) has led to a small change to the BHIS. Maintenance works can now be applied for in cases where previously such work did not qualify under the scheme. Other local small-scale grant schemes have been developed by architectural conservation officers. Cork City Council developed a scheme in 2011 to assist the owners of historic buildings in the city’s architectural conservation areas, to conserve and repair windows, doors, roofs, chimneys, gutters, railings and shopfronts. South Dublin County Council has focused on local- authority-owned protected structures, and has secured capital funds to help protect ruinous structures in public open space and parklands, which I have managed over the past number of years. This has promoted awareness and com- munity collaboration. A number of initiatives, projects, workshops and exhibitions have been delivered through the Engaging with Architecture programme, funded in partnership with the Arts Council and DCHG under the auspices of the Government Policy on Architecture. Offaly County Council’s and South Dublin County Council’s architectural conser- vation officers have successfully curated and managed programmes under this programme. Other architectural events to highlight the value of our built environment have been created and developed or assisted by ACOs from Galway, Mayo and Kerry County Councils, through the Architecture at the Edge and Architecture Kerry programmes. These saw a wide range of free events, including talks, guided tours, exhibitions, workshops and family events. Becoming involved in a number of projects in South Dublin County Council and in col- laboration with other organisations has allowed my role to expand and diversify, providing professional development and a sense of fulfil- ment. I was also involved in Reimagine Tallaght, funded by the Creative Ireland Programme and delivered in partnership with the Irish Architecture Foundation (IAF), South Dublin County Council and Tallaght Community Arts. Reimagine brings together local communities, architects, designers and planners to develop projects that will enhance the built environment of each of the towns. Melt the Walls focuses on enhancing Chamber Square for the local residents with a temporary installation, connecting it with the surrounding cultural buildings.The intention was to test small ways in which local people could engage better with each other and with the physical space. The result was an interactive piece which functioned as a seating area. The recently published National Policy on Architecture discussion paper is seeking public submissions on a proposed policy. The policy will set out the Irish Government’s ambition for better understanding the qualities, benefits and potential of our built environment. At the heart of Project Ireland 2040 will be high-quality design, sustainable new buildings, places and spaces, and sensitive reuse of our existing built environment and resources. The results of the national policy will be akin to the work of local authority architectural conservation officers. The ACOs have a clear vision: achieving it will depend on support at national government level and within our local authorities. Thanks to Janice McAdam, strategy and engagement consultant facilitator, for the AACO workshop, and the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht and ACOs for information on projects. Irenie McLoughlin is architectural conservation officer with South Dublin County Council. A lecture on the design of the Palas Cinema, Galway, featured in Architecture at the Edge (Photo: Architecture at the Edge) A logo for Engaging with Architecture (Image: FORM Design)