The Fourteenth Annual Berkeley Undergraduate Prize for Architectual Design Excellence 2012
Berkeley Prize 2012

Michael Swords Bio

"Although I only began studying Architecture when I was 19, my interest in design flourished at a young age. Some of my earliest memories are of me playing with building blocks, and watching my father, who was a builder, constructing things. From an early age I was interested in how things were made, and now in my fifth year of Architectural studies, this has developed and matured into an interest in Architecture as a craft, and especially in the beauty and intelligence of craft that is vernacular Architecture .

Dublin city is an inspiring place to study architecture. The rich fabric of juxtaposing styles in the city means that when rambling through the streets to college, great lessons about urban design and social interaction can be observed. Studying this dense but ordered urban fabric, in which brick is ubiquitous, has led me to be particularly interested in a ‘cosmetic’ type of architecture, filling in and patching up where necessary, as well as making me appreciate the simplistic beauty and inherent genius of brick masonry Architecture. Tectonics and structure are dominant themes in the course in Dublin school of architecture, and are run as parallel modules that interlink with the main studio projects. This has led to me developing a design process primarily concerned with the idea of 'making', and considering how the building is crafted.

My graduation from university is drawing near, and recently my thoughts have turned to considering which area I would like to focus on when I finish my bachelors degree. It has been an ambition of mine for a number of years to undertake a masters in the history of Architecture after I leave Dublin. Recently I have become interested in the idea of working with traditional craftsmen, such as furniture makers and carpenters, to understand the skills and crafts that are being lost to the generation of mass production. I was fortunate enough to work with stonemasons and carpenters when travelling in Italy, and have tried to apply the knowledge that I gained from them to my studio projects, in order to design well crafted buildings."

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