Deconstructing the Belfast Alley Map

26th September 2022
Studio idir and Starling Start were thrilled to be asked by Your City Your Voice Belfast to exhibit our 9ft in Common work in the Urban Room at 2 Royal Avenue, Belfast. We had a great panel discussion about all things alleys to launch the exhibition. On display were our Belfast Alley Map, Jonathan Brennan’s beautiful cyanotype prints of our map and our sketch design proposals. Follow us on Instagram @9ftincommon.

Re-Imagining Elderhood

30th August 2022
Re-Imagining Elderhood is a research project led by Self Organised Architecture and funded by Arts Council Ireland. Studio idir were selected, along with Islander Architects from Balbriggan and Ailbhe Cunningham from Cork, to investigate how neighbourhoods can encourage positive ageing and foster community.

Studio idir have chosen to focus on Ballyhackamore in Belfast where our office is based, and have led several workshops – we’ve loved hearing the community’s opinions on the area and ideas for the future! Watch this space to see how the project unfolds, follow us on Twitter and Instagram @re__hack.

Pay only 5% VAT for some renovations

30th March 2021
Did you know that if your house has been unoccupied for 2 years, or if you are bringing an unused barn or outbuilding into residential use for the first time, you are eligible to pay only 5% VAT on your construction works? Several of our clients have available of this scheme (VAT notice 708, sections 7 and 8), and we recently had a case study about one such project published in Self-Build Ireland, which you can read about here.

To take advantage of this, you must prove to the builder’s accountant that your property qualifies. Typically two or more pieces of evidence are required. Our clients have done this before using some of the following:

  • confirmation from an estate agent that the house has been on the market, and empty for 2 or more years, if relevant;
  • a death certificate of the previous occupant, or letter from a care home confirming the date at which they moved in;
  • a rates bill showing the property listed as vacant;
  • utilities bills showing decreased usage as it’s been unoccupied;
  • letters from neighbours confirming that no-one has been living at the property for that time.

Once the contractor’s accountant is satisfied of the evidence, the contractor can then charge you the reduced 5% for any works you carry out. This can bring a great saving. Note the reduction does not extend to certain items such as professional services, and non-fixed internal fittings and appliances. Feel free to ask us any questions and we’ll do our best to answer based on our experiences with this VAT saving. Image by Jamie Trimble.

AJ 40 Under 40

18th December 2020
We are delighted to share that our Director Aisling Rusk has been selected as one of the Architect’s Journal 40 Architects under 40, alongside fellow Belfast Architect Jane Larmour of ALW Architects, and many talented and interesting others! Check out the article on Aisling here. Illustration below by Simon Hayes.

9ft in Common

1st December 2020
An investigation about ownership, access, disruption and place. 9ft in Common is led and developed by Amberlea Neely of Starling Start and Aisling Rusk of Studio idir and supported by Necessity. This research projects seeks to uncover the complexities and share the possibilities of an infrastructure of urban alleyways, Belfast’s wild and liminal spaces. Please visit the project’s website to follow our progress as we walk, map and discover stories of the alleyways of Belfast.

A Woman in Architecture

9th November 2020
Congratulations to Katie on passing her Part 3 Professional Practice in Architecture Course at Queen’s University! See our People page for more info, or check out the @women_in_architecture_ni instagram page for more insights from Katie, amongst a host of other fabulous women, on her journey to becoming an architect.

Another Aisling!

1st October 2020
At the beginning of September we welcomed Aisling Madden to Studio idir as a Part II Architectural Assistant. Aisling brings energy, enthusiasm and an eye for colour and life-filled imagery. Check out her Autumnal take on our Kincora Project below, and read more about her on our People page.

We are Hiring!

2nd July 2020
Application for the Part I/II Architectural Assistant post is now closed. Thank you to everyone who applied!

Draw, Drink, Discuss

22nd May 2020

Isolation Escapes lockdown drawing by Anna Gibb

Aisling, along with the lovely architect-extraordinaire Aoife McGee, are delighted to be hosting a Friday evening of light entertainment as part of Women in Architecture UK’s series of lockdown events, representing RSUA  Women in architecture NI (have you checked out our amazing  instagram yet, with weekly guest hosts?!).  Drawing not your thing?  There will be a specially commissioned print by Anna Gibb for you to print at home and colour in, instead!  The event is free and there will be a giveaway on the night of Anna’s original drawing and some other works, too.  Also featuring brief presentations from  the ridiculously talented architect-artists Jane Larmour, Mark Donnelly and Nadine Graham.  This is an open event – all are welcome.  Bring your own drinks.  Will we see you there?!  Follow the link above to book.

Image credit: Anna Gibb

Growth: for the season that’s in it

13th April 2020
Sharing a project we’ve had great pleasure in working on over the last year.  Edible Flower are an inspirational catering company/supper club/home-growing/home-brewing/pair of lovely, clever individuals we are delighted to call our clients and collaborators.  We have been working with them to envision a 60+ year plan of slow and sustainable growth for their Co.Down homestead.  The first step, recently submitted to Planning, is converting an outbuilding into a kitchen classroom, to free up their farmhouse kitchen for family use.  Longer term, they plan to grow an edible forest in their two fields, where you could forage for food to feed a group of people at any time of the year.  Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it?  As part of our masterplan, Katie prepared these beautiful images depicting our vision for the seasonal changes and growth of the homestead over the coming decades. It’s a real feel-good project!