It took a while but I’ve finally taken & passed the RIAI Conservation Grade III course!
The plan was to undertake the course straight after being admitted to the RIAI but for a multitude of reasons this didn’t happen; the fact that the course is only run every two years exacerbated the problem. Here’s the run-down on the lead up to the current success:
Year 1 (2005) : “I doubt if I’ll ever do work to a protected structure”, famous last words – a month later I was doing the planning application for the light house keepers cottage in Belmullet (photo below, planning permission granted but government cut grants for protected structure works):
Year 5 (2009): Had to go to wedding (not even mine I hasten to add)!
Year 7 (2011): Attended course, took exam & passed!
Although I’d done stacks of conservation education and work in the UK and Ireland (worked on a great project whilst at Oxford Brookes under Bob Franklin’s tutorage (a grade 2 listed town house/shop in Burford,Oxon); other projects included the fireproofing of beams at Queen Marys Hospital in Roehampton (a grade 2* Edwin Lutyens building), and you will have seen stacks of renovated cottages,sheds and barns throughout this blog as well as on my Twitter stream and Facebook page. Before and after images of cobblers cottage restoration shown below:
What’s interesting however is that there are two grades above Grade III where the architect is qualified to work in buildings of national importance. The Grade III suits me fine for the residential work I undertake on houses, extensions and the like (famous last words!). The Grade III therefore almost seems like the Junior Infants (Reception) class of restoration until you find out that the only courses that would be deemed acceptable as equivalent to the RIAI Conservation Induction Module Grade III (official title) are below, and these are AFTER qualifying as an architect in order to be accredited as an architect in conservation:
* Professional Development Diploma in Building Conservation, West Dean College. (The Professional Development Diploma can be achieved through the successful completion of 10 Building Master Classes and the submission of a final essay.)
Well anyway, I’ve now passed the course and can therefore say on my business cards, web site and the like, that:
Mark Stephens is an Architect Accredited in Conservation at Grade III
Mark Stephens Architects is an Architectural Practice Accredited in Conservation at Grade III
So, if you have a nice restoration or conservation project in Ireland and you’re looking for an architect you know where to come, ahem…