Counting Time

Amanda and Jonathan at Cobblestone. (Copyright Dave Chance Photography, 2012.)

Amanda and Jonathan at Cobblestone, from an earlier blog post. (Copyright Dave Chance Photography, 2012.)

I’m sitting here counting time, waiting for my co-authors to send updates and Dave to finish editing some pictures so we can head off to see the nephews one last time before I fly out.

Meanwhile Jonathan and (Fulbright student) Amanda are visiting Dublin, and getting my apartment broken back in for living. Jonathan has just posted on Facebook the praises of the IKEA Poang chair (that I bought using I highly recommend buying it with the matching footstool.

Amanda and Jonathan are heading off to play at the Cobblestone pub tonight… I’d love to be there to hear them play!  I’m living vicariously through the photos Dave took last time they played there.

Awash in Culture–and Wishing I’d Hit Record!

I actually had a voice recording device on me today, but I hadn’t set it up.

I was in Linenhall for a quick, half hour coffee meeting. So, I didn’t think to ask to record until the conversation was too good to stop for something as odd and pragmatic as setting up the iPhone.

I was meeting Máirtin D’Alton (the architect who lead a tour I attended during Open House Dublin, I’ve included a photo to spark your memory).

Following the Tour, I suggested/recommended/fairly much insisted on him for a position at DIT. Sima took my advice, and he’s been working for an hour a week in the 4th year architectural technology studio ever since.

Of course, he’s giving more time than an hour a week to the cause.

He’s being very conscientious in the role–he showed me the prep work he’d done for today.  (I always like to know it’s working out well after I recommend someone!) His prep work must have taken hours.

And, he was also part of a studio crit yesterday that lasted from 9am-7pm. Whew! How exhausting!

He still made time to meet me for coffee before studio today. And, our conversation today was fascinating!  I made a few notes on my phone at the end. They’re below, in rough form but interesting nonetheless.

Typical Irish bungalow. This one located near Killaney. (Photo © Brian Shaw.)


Bungalows have been the norm for single family detached housing in Ireland–past and present. You’ve been able to buy plan books. There are lots of versions of bungalows out there but they all have basic rectangle with simple hip or gabled roof. They’re getting more complex roofs now. They used to be situated with the gable end toward the SW to capture breeze and solar energy, but by now many town councils have regulated they should face street. Hedgerows have been removed to allow roads to be widened. This has changed the composition of Irish towns greatly. They don’t reflect nature or the social fabric the same way as in the past.

The Irish fascination with the TV show “Dallas” lead to over abundance if houses mimicking that style, especially in the north.


New-fangled bungalow in Tralee, used as a B&B. Downloaded from property listing website.

We discussed WalMart’s development strategy and how this plays out with IKEA around the globe and with Carrefour and the like in France. In France, the big box stores on outskirts have strangled small businesses, much like in the USA.  (IKEA has been getting big press for plans to go green lately, but they really must address the longevity and up-cycling of their products. Their solar lights are very poor quality and they break with little use.)

Irish traditional music was almost dead in the 1960s. A Guggenheim sister came and did recordings (i.e., qualitative research).  She brought a group to NYC (she had a close relationship with one of the group). The group was set to play for two minutes on a TV show, but due to a cancellation they ended up with 20 minutes to play. They resorted to playing tunes their mom had taught them. This show brought out American enthusiasm; it was wildly popular in the US. This sparked a revival of traditional music on Ireland. (Interestingly, Fulbright Ireland has a big role in preserving Irish language today.)

Image by John Moore / Getty Images / AAP, from the article Totally green: IKEA pledges to switch to 100% renewable energy by 2020.

Regarding names: it was popular in the north to use the mother’s last name (surname or family name) as the child’s first name. That’s how names like Kelly and Shannon would have started bring used as first names.

Jimmy Stewart biography.

In our discussion, I posited that architectural pedagogy is becoming more relevant to society while the architecture profession is becoming less and less relevant (the irony is that education has a big role to play in instilling the types of values that are causing this demise, as well as instilling a sense of curiosity and engagement that makes architecture grads so valuable to other fields).


Mairtin told me that Jimmy Stewart studied architecture at Princeton. He then bagged it, and went into acting. He played in a film set in the Shenandoah Valley, that Máirtin watched last weekend.
…Máirtin has offered to show Esther Serchi and me some important sights on the outskirts of Dublin, while she’s visiting in a week.

It’s Greek to Me

It takes some adjusting to Greek signage, with it’s mix of Greek and non-Greek words. What can you understand from the beverage list above?

I got something close to what I imagined I was ordering, but wayyyyy full of sugar.  I was hoping for a crepe with fruit, but got gooey strawberry-flavored creme instead.  Later that night, I was still finding bits of pink icing in interesting places.  Including a dot of it on the tip of my nose.

…there’s no telling what you might order.

One thing you can count on in Europe is being able to find the IKEA.  They’re located in the country’s biggest cities (including Dublin which is Ireland’s largest city, and Thessaloniki, which is Greece’s second largest city).

I’ve noticed that IKEA is often located near the airport.  And in Europe, the public bus always goes to IKEA.  The busses in Dublin and Thessaloniki say “IKEA” right across the front of the bus, in day-glow letters.  It’s apparently hypnotizing, and no human seems able to resist.

Sign at the airport for the IKEA bus.