Barry Gilhooly is a Senior Architectural Technologist with Malone Architecture, and he is a long-time PorterShed member who is passionate about architecture, different approaches to construction, and building designs’ impact on society and the world in which they live. A talented technical worker, he focuses a lot on the detail of bespoke build projects, working with contractors and clients to help transform concepts into concrete results. He often works on multiple different projects at a time, ranging from technical specifications to actual builds.
“I left school early, aged 15, and started working on building sites, and then I did an apprenticeship with a general contractor back home. I worked in carpentry until the crash of 2008, and then I decided to go back and study architectural technology at Edinburgh University,” Barry says of how he got started in the world of architecture.
A number of years in London working in his chosen field followed on from that before Barry decided to come back to Ireland – and to Galway.
“When I did want to move back, it was the only place I wanted to move back to. It’s close to Leitrim – Carrick-on-Shannon is only an hour-and-a-half down the road – it’s close to family, and I’ve made a lot of friends up here, since I’ve moved back, and through the PorterShed, so that’s great to have that community as well,” Barry says of the City of Tribes.
So, what is architectural technology, and why does Barry enjoy it so much?
“Architectural technology bridges the gap between the architect and the draftsman. The architect will give us their idea and we’ll see how we can put it together, and then we ship it on to the technician to draw it up,” Barry explains.
“It’s interesting and it keeps you on your toes. It’s nice, sometimes, to have the copy/paste routine, but it’s not always like that,” Barry explains as he tells me that the role is a fast-paced one where no two jobs are ever really the same, in spite of the fact that there is a lot of crossover from one build to the next. He also adds that the company he works with is hoping to branch out into new builds in time, specifically developments of several similar or identical houses.
Barry’s job as an architectural technologist requires him to work on multiple projects at a time, which will often mean that he will be working on the start of one project while also working on bringing another to completion. It’s surely a tricky balance to get right, but Barry is a pro at doing just that, and he tells me that there are a lot of pluses to that dynamic.
“It can be quite rewarding when you get to the end…one of the projects I’m working on at the moment has been ongoing since 2017. We’ve got two that we started in 2018 – one of those is coming to a close now in the next few months, and the other one is not set to finish until September 2023. We’re working on projects for that length of time, but we’re not working on them continually; we’re dropping in and out, from concept to construction,” Barry explains.
Barry’s is quite a detail-oriented job that requires an immense amount of focus, especially when switching from one project to another, but he recognizes that it’s uber-important to always put his best foot forward, especially considering the investment that their clients put in.
“It’s a massive investment for the client – it’s the biggest investment they’re ever going to make, and it’s very personal to them,” he explains, so he always does his best to manage the projects he’s working on while doing justice to their expectations while also juggling the contractors’ expectations.
“The great thing is that you’re always learning. You’re learning on the job, and with the construction industry, it’s always evolving. Regulations are always – and have since – been changed in the UK,” he says, adding that there is always something to be kept abreast of, which often means being proactive to learning what’s new and taking it all in his stride.
“It’s a good job to be in – it’s high stress, high-ish reward,” he says with a laugh.
Barry’s passion for architectural technology and architecture in general stems from his days as a carpenter – and his youth spent making various pieces with his neighbour.
“We were always building things from his Dad’s workshop, so I’ve always been making, and I’d really love to touch base on that again, you know? Architecture is beautiful, and it does take a long time to put a project together, so there’s a lot to be said for making something with your hands and looking back on it and appreciating what you’ve done with that time.”
Barry has seen architecture from all sides throughout his career to date – his work on sites, his role as an architectural technologist, and his manual craftsmanship have each allowed him to develop a well-rounded view of the whole industry.
As such, he’s in a rather unique position and sees the value in all aspects of the industry he works in, from the technology to the trade, and he sees advantages in both, but adds that we shouldn’t forget about the art of making in a world of technology.
By Trevor Murray