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Úna Breathnach- Hifearnáin

RISING STARS 2017 COHORT

Project architect, Purcell 

Part 2: 2012  Part 3: 2014

The judges recognised Úna Breathnach-Hifearnáin’s dedication to her project Aerospace Bristol and its detailed design and delivery. ‘She is passionate and making a difference,’ says Eleanor Young. 

This is a museum to celebrate and remember Concorde, and Breathnach-Hifearnáin’s nomination makes clear that she understands the personal attachment people had to the aircraft and took the time to educate herself on the subject.

  • Concorde Aerospace Building, Bristol at dusk.
    Concorde Aerospace Building, Bristol at dusk. Credit: Quintin Lake Photography
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‘When Úna joined Purcell two years ago she impressed immediately with her creative problem-solving and passion for delving into projects to understand them fully,’ says her referee, associate Rob Gregory. ‘As a colleague, Úna is incredibly generous with her time and expertise. Her dedication and good nature makes working with clients and
tough deadlines much easier on her team.’ 

She has the hallmarks of a good project architect and more, Purcell explicitly saying that deep involvement in one project, which could be all consuming, doesn’t mean other more mundane activities are ditched. 

The judges were also pleased by the positive and proactive way that contractor Kier was mentioned in Breathnach-Hifearnáin’s entry, a missing element from much architectural discussion.

  • Breathnach-Hifearn was on site when Concorde moved into its new home.
    Breathnach-Hifearn was on site when Concorde moved into its new home. Credit: Purcell
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What would you most like to improve about the industry? 

I would love it to become more inclusive, to engage with young people more and to give those less advantaged the opportunity to study and enjoy architecture. Introducing the idea of architecture to younger minds may give them the curiosity required to pursue it as a career. 

What existing building or place would you most like to tackle? 

Dún Dúchathair on the Aran islands in Ireland. Simply for the solitude of place. There on the boundary of land and sea a terraced wall surrounds the remains of some early dwellings known as clocháns. I have imagined creating something magical there ever since I first visited as a child.


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