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2023 Programme Exchange Learning

Trading Spaces – an update on a cultural exchange between Ireland and Sweden


The Trading Spaces exchange brought early career architects based in Sweden and Ireland together in Dublin and Stockholm to pool their knowledge about sustainable housing practices.

Last autumn, eight early career architects based in Sweden and Ireland came together in Dublin and Stockholm to pool their knowledge about sustainable housing practices as part of the Trading Spaces: Resources and Dwelling exchange co-organised by the Irish Architecture Foundation, Dublin and Färgfabriken, Stockholm.

In the design of housing, innovative ideas and solutions are needed that enable society to dwell lightly, sustainably and securely on the earth. At a time of material scarcity, knowledge transfer and experience remain an abundant resource in how architects design and act. Trading Spaces was set up to support early career architects and practitioners in Ireland and Sweden to exchange knowledge and experience, discussing and confronting questions they face in their work and practices, and to explore potential future collaborations. 

The exchange participants, selected through an Open Call process, were, from Ireland, Noreile Breen (Noreile Breen Architecture), Tom Lindsay and James McConville (Accelerating Change Together – ACT), Ciarán Molumby and Laura Carroll (Islander Architects) and, from Sweden, Jennita Schaaphok, Annika Olausson (Cedervall Arkitekter), and Daniel Johansson (BYGGFENOMEN).

During the exchanges – which took place in September in Dublin and November in Stockholm – the participants visited each other’s studios, gave presentations, attended exhibitions and led tours around ‘typical’, atypical and other illustrative housing developments in their respective countries. In doing so, the participants shared the challenges and opportunities faced in both contexts, and questioned the role of the architect in addressing the issues of resource scarcity and sustainable building practices.

The exchanges opened in Dublin with a video welcome from the Ambassador of Ireland to Sweden, Barbara Jones. The Ambassador’s message highlighted that Trading Spaces is not only an exchange of knowledge but also an exchange of friends, convened by the Embassy, the IAF and Färgfabriken to enable early career architects to learn from each other and work together to address the core global challenge of limited natural resources.

Following the Stockholm visit, one of the participants commented: “In a world of deadlines and defined outputs, Trading Spaces was a unique opportunity that gave us the time to reflect on our practice of architecture in Ireland and compare it with the Swedish experience. It was a revitalising knowledge exchange!”

Trading Spaces was developed from an idea by architect Elizabeth Hatz to strengthen cultural exchange in architecture between Ireland and Sweden. The project has led to a new and developing collaboration between the IAF and Fägfabriken, who developed the idea together and managed the delivery of the exchange in Ireland and Sweden. 

Speaking for the IAF, director Emmett Scanlon confirmed the success of the exchange: “The IAF has an ambition to support emerging architects to find time and space for discussion and the development of the architectural imagination, always challenging within the pressures of a deadline-driven practice. As an organisation we are also enthused to collaborate and work with partners in Europe and beyond. Therefore, we were delighted with our new colleagues at Fägfabriken to be able to support such an engaged and ambitious group of architects through this exchange. The exchange proved fruitful at an individual and institutional level, and the IAF is grateful to former Ambassador Austin Gormley and current Ambassador Barbara Jones for their support, hospitality and belief in architecture as a key part of international cultural exchange and relationship building. The IAF looks forward too to offering more supports to emerging architects in the future and to future work with Fägfabriken.”

Trading Spaces was supported by the Embassy of Ireland in Sweden. 


Photo: Participants during the Stockholm visit. Photo by Felix Hunter Green, IAF.

Logo: Golden Irish harp (left) with text in dar green (right): Ambasáid na hÉireann | An tSualainn / Embassy of Ireland | Sweden / Irlands Ambassad | Sverige