#Architalks #29 #Homecoming #Celtic #Vernacular

This post is part of the ArchiTalks series where a group of us (architects who also blog) all post on the same day and promote each other’s blogs. The Topic ‘Leader’ for this post ‘Homecoming’ is Bob Borson.

Firstly, it’s a sign of knowing yourself well that you know when to withdraw from a project and I’m sad to hear that Bob Borson has decided to not participate in the incredible project that he set up, that is Architalks – the door should be left open, at any stage…

So. Homecoming.

Who are we?

Where do we come from?

What are we?

Possibly the most important questions of them all. And ones that I have mulled over probably more than most.


My father (and in fact all of my father’s side of the family back to the 1700’s) was born in the Channel Islands but was evacuated during the 2nd world war. So I’m from the Channel Islands?

He was evacuated to Cornwall, UK – So I’m Cornish?

Where he met my mother (also Cornish), moved to London and then had me – So I’m a Londoner?

And then the son (me) met his wife) and moved to Ireland and there will be a point in the future where I will have lived longer in Ireland then I will have lived in the UK. I’m entitled to an Irish passport but will I ever be Irish?

But what on earth has this to do with Homecoming?

My theory is that you can’t escape your background for where you end up. It’s inevitable.

My background was spending every holiday I could in Cornwall. This included every Summer, Winter and Easter for year after year. I grew up around properties very similar to the one below:

Photo from alamy.com

The work that I am now doing in Ireland concentrates on residential projects; a lot of which are traditional cottage restorations similar to the before & after photos below:

Cobblers Cottage

Cobblers Cottage BEFORE

Cobblers Cottage Restoration Exterior

Cobblers Cottage Restoration Exterior – AFTER

There are many similarities between the landscape and the vernacular architecture of Cornwall and Ireland (indeed all of the Celtic nations had a similar need to build simple houses using the materials that were close at hand i.e. stone and wood.

A map of the Celtic nations – image from Wikipedia

The map opposite shows the six territories widely considered Celtic nations – what’s interesting is that my family has effectively moved from south to north, from the Channel Islands near Brittany, to Cornwall and now to Ireland (barring the odd holiday – we skipped Wales).

But how do I feel now? I do feel as if I have come home. I have been made welcome in a different country and have built a life and business in a different Celtic Country to where my ancestors originally started. I have made my Homecoming.

To read how the other ‘blogging architects’ have interpreted this theme click the links below – I’ve posted mine early due to time differences and I’ll update this list as they come on line:

Matthew Stanfield – FiELD9: architecture (@FiELD9arch)
Coming Home to Architecture

Lee Calisti, AIA – Think Architect (@LeeCalisti)
looking back i wonder

Lora Teagarden – L² Design, LLC (@L2DesignLLC)
Coming home as an architect

Eric T. Faulkner – Rock Talk (@wishingrockhome)
9-11 — A Look Back

Michele Grace Hottel – Michele Grace Hottel, Architect (@mghottel)

Michael Riscica AIA – Young Architect (@YoungArchitxPDX)
Homecoming & Looking Back

Brian Paletz – The Emerging Architect (@bpaletz)
Homecoming Memories

Emily Grandstaff-Rice – Emily Grandstaff-Rice FAIA (@egrfaia)
Letter to a Younger Me

Drew Paul Bell – Drew Paul Bell (@DrewPaulBell)
Looking Back…Was Architecture Worth It?

Kyu Young Kim – J&K Atelier (@sokokyu)
Homecoming, in 3 Parts

Nisha Kandiah – ArchiDragon (@ArchiDragon)
Just give me a reason : Homecoming

Jim Mehaffey – Yeoman Architect (@jamesmehaffey)
Is It a Homecoming If You Never Left?

Gabriela Baierle-Atwood – Gabriela Baierle-Atwood (@gabrielabaierle)
My Ode to Fargo

Jane Vorbrodt – Kuno Architecture (@janevorbrodt)
Looking Back Through the Pages

ps There was a bit of confusion over the post title on this one – hence you’ll also see some ‘Looking backs…’

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