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Interview Learning

Meet the Graduate Panel: Michelle Delea


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.

Meet Michelle Delea.


Tell us about the work you’re currently involved in.

Currently my work is between architectural practice and education, with multiple side projects in the wider arts (film, poetry, and cultural events). I have worked with Cork-based practice Shipsey Barry for the past two years, contributing predominantly to early stages of residential developments. In education, I am assisting research and development of the new European MSc programme Redesigning the Post-Industrial City (RePIC), which is partially delivered by UCC through the UNIC alliance. My transdisciplinary works are often influenced by the study of architecture with a particular focus on public engagement.


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

It was probably a great curiosity that initially drew me to study architecture. It stood out as a pursuit that would demand creative and analytical thinking, with an opportunity to work across different media and teams. Following a more linear second level education, each of these elements was attractive for me to explore and develop. I aspire to continue this broad education into meaningful practice and future projects.


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

I joined the IAF Graduate Panel because I have a great appreciation for the work that the IAF produces and engages with. I’ve had memorable experiences with Reimagine, Open House Dublin, and Architects in Schools, as well as the newsletters and one-off exhibitions. It felt natural to take the opportunity to become more involved and meet more graduates around the country with similar agendas.


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

Currently I intend to continue developing research, experimentation, and engagement in architecture while building on my experience and knowledge in the practice environment. I foresee my sustained interest in housing, urban design and public space influencing the direction of my architectural career.


Tell us about your favourite contemporary Irish buildings or contemporary buildings designed by Irish architects.

I’ve always had an affinity for The Hanging Gardens in Limerick by Carr Cotter Naessens and Denis Byrne Architects. As CCN was the first practice I worked for as a graduate in 2017 – while this project was underway – it was inspiring to see what goes into a design of such detail. Now, any time I am on the bus to Galway, I look forward to it stopping opposite Gardens International for another look. 2018 brought Close Encounters, curated by Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara, during a celebratory year for Irish Architects. Also among my discovery of many contemporary practices at that time was Ryan W. Kennihan Architects, whose work continues to be relentlessly admirable.