Niall Patrick Walsh
Let's start by telling us a little about yourself.
I’m 25 years old, hailing from Ireland. I studied architecture at Queen’s University Belfast, working during my placement year with Architecture Initiative in London. I currently work in Dublin as a graduate architect with BDP (Building Design Partnership), one of the largest firms in the UK and Ireland. While in university, I began writing as ArchDaily’s News Editor, and since graduation and re-entering the world of professional practice, I write one article per week for ArchDaily, often in-depth editorial pieces, or interviews.
Describe a recent project you've worked on.
My final year thesis explored the potential for alternative farming systems within the context of climate change. It championed the potential for local “nutriscapes” where a circular food production process is unpacked across cities, stitched into the urban environment to enable urban renewal, economic empowerment, and social repair. Taking my home city of Belfast as a site, the scheme activities an area of urban decay and social deprivation to the east of the city, creating a modular, intermodal system of urban agriculture integrated with existing structures in a city-wide act of industrial landscape urbanism."
How has being a writer for ArchDaily influenced you?
It has shown me that architecture goes beyond the design of a medium-sized building. Just as ArchDaily is a global network, architecture is a global profession. Having reported on innovative responses by architects around the world to issues such as climate change, homelessness, or forced migration, I am aware of the ability, maybe even the prerogative, of architects to engage with global flows, and tackle challenges far beyond their typical brief.
What do you see as some of the biggest opportunities in architecture right now?
Architects today have an unprecedented array of tools to aid design. Whether it is augmented reality, virtual reality, Building Information Modeling, or the infrastructures allowing architects across the world to collaborate as if they were present in the same office, there has never been so much potential for us to push the boundaries of physics and design.
What are some of the biggest challenges?
Climate change is the single biggest challenge of our time. The design and construction industry may not be the largest emitter, but an architecture truly embedded in nature and sustainability has the power to change minds and attitudes. Our challenge as architects is to educate and equip ourselves with the knowledge we need to create an architecture which is of benefit to planet, not a liability. Tools such as ArchDaily have a role to play in this education, but ultimately we need individual and collective responsibility from the profession, urgently.
What are you most excited about as you begin your career in architecture?
Recently I interviewed the founder of TED, Richard Saul Wurman, who trained as an architect. I was taken aback by the variety of fields he has engaged with throughout his long career, from architecture and cartography to medicine and data organization. I am most excited by the prospect of embarking on a career with multiple elements, including practice, writing, teaching, and enterprise. What can be more exciting than waking up in the morning with a long, diverse list of things to do, with no possibility of getting them all done? What can be more exciting than living constantly outside of your comfort zone?