Monday 30 June 2008

Minister Gormley presents annual Irish Architecture Awards

“The challenge of history is to recover the past and introduce it to the present” - said John Gormley TD, Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, at the annual RIAI Irish Architecture Awards at the CHQ, IFSC, Dublin Docklands.

“In the surroundings of the beautifully restored CHQ, it is easy to see how the past and the present can live easily together if we give enough attention to conservation and clever design” - the Minister added.

“Achieving the ambitious targets for energy efficiency in all our buildings will present challenges to the construction industry. The signs are most encouraging that industry - more and more - accepts the commercial benefits of moving with us on this reform process. We look forward to continuing the journey with them over the next few years. For my part, I am determined to lead from the front in terms of introducing new and innovative policies and technologies to address this challenge.”

Minister Gormley referred to the changes which he has made to the Building Regulations in December 2007 - which require new dwellings to achieve a 40% reduction in energy consumption and a 40% reduction in CO2 emissions from 1 July next. The Minister added - “I will further update the Building Regulations in 2010 to achieve a 60% improvement over the 2005 standards for new dwellings.”

Minister Gormley complimented the RIAI for the recent introduction of a statutory registration scheme for architects - the legal provision for which he, as Minister, had commenced on 1 May 2008. “The Building Control Act 2007 rightly provides that the legitimate use of the title 'architect' is restricted to properly-qualified professionals whose names are entered on a national statutory register. Similar provisions will apply to the titles of 'Quantity Surveyor' and 'Building Surveyor'" - the Minister stated.

The Minister presented the 'Most Sustainable Building Award' - which is sponsored annually by his Department - to the winning client, designer, contractor and site foreman of the winning entry - the Civic Offices building in Cork City. The Department had again commissioned the beautiful statuette - The Messenger' - in Irish Bog Oak, with the theme - 'The Artist lives in hope for a better tomorrow'.

A private house overlooking Lough Swilly in Co Donegal - Tuath na Mara - won the first ever Public Choice Award category - voted on by the public. The house in Portsalon - with its zig-zag roof to catch both the rising and the setting sun - also won Best House award.

Architect Tarla MacGabhann, who designed the house with his brother Antoin, said the public award was “profoundly more important” to them than awards they have won from their peers. “What we do as architects must be experienced and encountered by the public on a daily basis. That’s what really matters. This is a public endorsement” - he said. Their firm has also been nominated in a category for the internationally-renowned Stirling Award for the new regional cultural centre in Letterkenny.

Minister Gormley extended his warm congratulations to all the winners and to all those whose work was of such high quality that it merited short-listing - and formally opened the RIAI Irish Architecture Awards 2008 Exhibition.

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