Florence Shields Architecture
Colouring both inside and outside the lines- while protecting and prolonging the life of heritage buildings all over North Leinster- has instilled Architect Florence Shields with a unique sense of design that allows her to combine the old with the new and sustainable. By focusing on harnessing a building’s natural attributes, alongside its orientation and size – Florence Shields works to restore any project to its former glory or create a cost effective and energy efficient new build for the next generation dawning- either way, she will be smiling, as architecture is what she does best.
Having spent her childhood out on construction sites with her father, who was an engineer- the RIAI Certified Architect gained an early interest in building things and watching them come together around her. This fascination, mixed with her experiences, made it a very easy decision when it came to going college- Florence knew exactly what she wanted to do. She studied Architecture at UCD and graduated in 1969, when she then embarked on her own architectural journey and set out to redefine the lines of construction and conservation.
“When I was a small child, I was always creating something and scribbling in the margins,” Architect, Florence Shields, explained. “My father used to bring us to visit his projects and I loved exploring the foundations and getting to see how the work developed. Then I became more interested in drawing and designing as a subject and went on to study them in college, where I worked hard and graduated with a high grade.”
After graduating from UCD, Florence went to work with a number of different architectural practices, where her methods and ideas where given a chance to flourish. With each brief that she completed and role that she fulfilled, her understanding of her craft deepened and allowed her insight and skills to evolve- leaving Florence with an overwhelming urge to set up on her own and develop her own architectural brand.
Now focusing on quality and efficiency- Florence’s work load includes domestic extensions, one-off housing and small commercial projects. In recent years, she has found herself working on an increasing number of projects that involve older buildings, many of them Listed Buildings- known here in Ireland as Protected Structures- and her true abilities as an architect have dominated the architectural world that exists in County Louth and its surrounding counties. She has also satisfied each of her clients- leaving them with finished projects that have gone above and beyond their original scope- and proven that old does not necessarily mean dilapidated.
“I run a small architectural Practice based around Drogheda in Co. Louth,” Florence explained. “The work I do is varied, but after I set up on my own in 1996- I gradually found my niche: conservation. These days, many of the clients who approach me have just purchased an older house that they wish to adapt to suit their busy 21st century life style. One of the first things they tend to say is: ‘We love the character of the building, but we want to improve it so that it won’t be too expensive to heat!’.”
“They tend to look at the old, rattly and draughty up-&-down sash windows that are possibly a little rotten round the sills, and their instinct tends to be ‘Let’s replace them with modern plastic ones with double or triple glazing!’ I spend some time explaining why, for various reasons, that this is inadvisable- and in the case of Protected Buildings, not permitted. Fortunately, I am glad to be able to tell them that for little more than the cost of modern replacement windows, a skilled specialist can repair and restore them to a condition that will ensure that they will last another 100 years.”
With Conservation regulations constantly changing, a firm understanding of the process is needed for each project to run smoothly- but that is not all. The materials are used in older buildings are different to modern materials and building methods- mixing them can bring about problems, such as cracking due to differential expansion and dampness caused by condensation. These are a few of the areas that Florence specialises in.
And it is this in-depth knowledge of these materials, fused with her passion for her work, that guarantees that Florence does not only endeavour to offer her clients the best construction and conservation advice – she provides them with homes and businesses that are crafted from the hands of the heart. Boasting a long list of happy clients that have found her through word-of-mouth and recommendations- there is no disputing the reputation of Architect Florence Shields – she is among the best when it comes to Architectural Conservation, and her clients are her motivation.
“One of the projects that I oversaw quite recently was the renovation of Clarke’s Pub, on the corner of Peter Street and Fair Street in Drogheda,” Florence revealed. “It was built around 1780 and was in a sad state, with both the roof and windows in poor condition, leading to dampness throughout the building. The conservation work (partly funded by Local Authority Grants) has resulted in the magnificent restoration of this worthy landmark- a favourite watering hole in Drogheda- to its prime.”
Florence Shield Architecture
Garrolagh, Clogherhead, Drogheda, Co. Louth
Tel: 041 988 1812 / Mobile: 087 238 1595