Creating designs for post recession times
"Sligo is on the cusp of something very exciting and positive," according to John Monahan and Elizabeth Clyne of NOJI Architects, the Sligo architecture and design studio which won the RIAI Future Award in the highly prestigious 2018 RIAI Architecture Awards.
John founded the company as a sole trader in Dublin eight years ago before moving back to Sligo in 2015 where he partnered with Elizabeth Clyne.
The move resulted in the practice focusing on an interesting mix of residential and commercial projects with an emphasis on urban regeneration - such as The Building Block, the innovative co-working space in Sligo of which John is a co-founder alongside Denise Rushe.
The success of The Building Block led to other significant projects including designing a series of public spaces to rejuvenate the centre of Tubbercurry and a village design framework plan in progress for Rosses Point. Bringing new life into towns and villages in Sligo is the most exciting part of where NOJI's work is going since the move from Dublin.
Elizabeth said: "You start to have a direct impact on towns making the most of themselves. These are dream projects where you have social influence. Sligo is the success story waiting to happen, the town and county has the opportunity to live up to its potential through urban regeneration in the town and embracing all of the amenities in the county. We feel like we're at the fulcrum of change."
John cites inward investment, the influx of jobs and a focus on urban regeneration as key factors that promise significant development for Sligo.
"Urban design plans are on track by Building Design Partnership, making Sligo town an enviable and pedestrian-friendly place where people want to go with their families. Tourism will be about the town centre as much as the seaside suburbs and county."
In giving the award to John and Elizabeth for their entry Design for a Changing Country - which discussed their active engagement with social, cultural and economic issues in Irish towns - the RIAI said their work stood out for its social dimension and diversity.
They believe good design is the answer to towns and villages suffering after the recession, saying that is time to rethink the basic functions of our buildings and uses of our urban environments.