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Interview Learning

Meet the Graduate Panel: Ali McMahon


Established in 2021, the IAF Graduate Panel offers a discursive and collaborative space to share ideas and an opportunity to link with the IAF’s core programme. We’d like to introduce you to our panelists over a series of interviews.

Tell us about the work you are currently involved in?

I am currently working at Plus Architecture and involved in a variety of projects of different scale and typology. At the moment I am working mainly on two housing projects, one is social housing scheme for Clúid Housing and the other is a housing project for a small scale developer.


What drew you to a career in architecture? What are your aspirations?

When choosing to study architecture, admittedly, I didn’t know a whole lot about the topic or the extent of what the career involved. I was curious about the subject and the idea of working in a creative field excited me.


Why did you decide to join the IAF Graduate Panel? What are your expectations?

I joined the IAF Graduates panel in order to facilitate further exploration into architectural culture and wider society. I believed that new perspectives, ideas and connections that emerged from the panel could further enable me to pursue several strands of research and forms of practice. I really think the best way of understanding and exploring different aspects of architecture is through collaboration and discussion with others. Being on the panel has allowed me to become part of a network and make connections that have led to new pursuits and collaborative work.


What area of architectural practice are you most interested in, and hoping to further develop your career in?

Throughout college I developed a particular interest in housing. I looked at the way we consider housing in Ireland in the context of architecture and society. It’s been interesting making the shift from college research to working in practice and getting experience on housing projects of different scale, typology and tenure. For the moment, I want to gain as much experience as possible through working collaboratively on a range of projects both in practice and outside practice. I think being exposed to many areas and forms of architecture early on in my career will help me decide how I want to progress in the profession and what route I want to take.


Tell us about your favourite contemporary Irish building, or contemporary building designed by an Irish architect(s).

Sticking on the theme of housing (!), I was really impressed and excited by the Dominick Hall project by Cotter & Naessens Architects and Denis Byrne Architects. I attended a tour of the building at Open House last October. This project represents the first phase of the Dominick Street regeneration project. On the tour Denis Byrne mentioned that DCC was keen for this project to be an exemplar for social housing in Ireland. It’s encouraging to see this long-term ambition for the social housing and regeneration. The scheme offers residents high-quality, energy-efficient and generous accommodation. I’m also intruiged by the regeneration scheme that Grafton Architects are carrying out on social housing at Constitution Hill. It’s interesting to compare the two approaches to the existing flats, whether they be reused or demolished and rebuilt.