Having studied Architecture at UCD (University College Dublin), Melanie went on to work in many award-winning practices both in Dublin and in Belfast, before travelling extensively throughout the Middle East and Asia, finally settling in India for 5 years. Here she worked for a large Indian Architectural firm, Morphogenesis, based in New Delhi, becoming a valued part of their Core Design Group. Melanie was involved in the design of many large multi-use development schemes, from University campuses and luxury hotels to grand one-off houses for extended Indian families. A scheme she developed of 3 high-rise towersis currently on site. Melanie was also involved in a teaching Studio for 2nd year Architecture students at the Sushant School of Art and Design.
While living in India, and with a young family now, Melanie started to work on various projects back home in Co. Down, including the renovation of a derelict house into her new family home. Over-seeing the entire project while expecting her second child in India, communication was through emailed drawings and phone calls, with site visits made on her trips home during holidays. From this beginning, Melanie set up her own architectural design firm in 2012 having re-located back home, and it is now beginning to flourish with many projects currently either on the drawing table, on site or recently completed.
We caught up with Melanie about her architectural practice and what motivates her!
Describe the style of architecture you specialise in and how you decided upon it.
Having worked on many schemes of varying scales and locations, my style of architecture would not be set to one 'type'. It is of great importance to my work that close consideration is made of the client, their needs and the location of the project. Currently my projects are primarily domestic in nature, which I find fascinating and highly rewarding. I am very interested in how people use buildings, how they are affected by their built environment, and to be in a position to help improve these circumstances, in particular to help improve where they live, is an enormous privilege and one I take very seriously. The renovation of our own terraced house was of mixed style. I maintained a more traditional frontage on the street, being mindful of being located within a village with a Conservation Area, whilst the rear of the house would be considered to be more modern in style, with flat roofs allowing for unbroken views towards woods at the rear, as well as the provision of roof-lighting to the spaces within. Myself and my husband have been very fortunate to have been able to recently buy a listed Church, dating from 1846, which is currently on the At-Risk Register, so I have been under-taking a Conservation course run by the RSUA, and with previous Conservation skills learnt in practice, we shall be hoping to convert the Church in the near future.
What made you decide to set up your own practice?
On re-locating back home from India with two small children and my husband commuting for work abroad, it made more sense for me at that stage to set up my own practice, as I had a few domestic jobs lined up for various family members and friends. Now that I have 3 young children, the youngest having recently turned 1, it is much more manageable for me to work from my office located at home, cutting out the long commute associated with an office job in Belfast. Being in control of the types of projects you undertake, and what projects you might attract in the future is very exciting!