One of the best things about an Architecture degree is that the tutors value travel as much as the students do, meaning we get to go on a few nice trips. Last week, for example, I went on a site visit to Ireland for a week and it was really interesting! Let’s be honest though, a site visit is very different to a usual study trip; firstly, the destination is maybe not as exotic or exciting. We started in Derry, after flying in to Belfast and getting a cute little mini bus to the town. We were lucky with Derry as it just so happened that there was a Northern Irish food festival with – and wait for it – a petting zoo! There were alpacas, which we got to stroke – they are literally like touching a cloud, I would highly recommend it if you get a chance. During our visit, we stayed in a hostel in the middle of a park in Derry and travelled to the small towns of Lifford and Strabane.
Why Lifford and Strabane? Well, they’re border towns (Lifford is in the Republic of Ireland and Strabane is in Northern Ireland) and our unit is inspired by what will happen to the border during and after Brexit. It’s super current and interesting because no one really knows what will happen so really we could design anything – it seems kind of intimidating but also cool, right?
Let me talk you through what we actually did there… We started by getting to grips with Ireland a little more, because there’s a lot of history which we have to consider and which lots of people on both sides of the border still refer to. Then, on our first night, we went to the greyhound races in Lifford, which was quite…interesting! It felt like a very local event but everyone was very friendly, particularly the lady serving the chips – she was very generous and I appreciated how nice she was to us! The following morning we visited the two towns mentioned above and started off by just having a wander, taking notes and making sketches, talking to people and taking photos. The next day we began surveying properly: we each had a small section to study and we had to note everything in that area, from trees to buildings and even people, absolutely everything! Then we split up and everyone tried to see what they were each personally drawn to at the site.
And then… we came back home! It was a tiring week because there was a lot to cram in as we are unlikely to be able to go back. It was really interesting to look at two areas that were so different yet so similar in many ways and imagine what might happen there. Also… I had some nice chips and met an alpaca so it was well worth going!