The beginning of this century saw unemployment in Poland, my homeland, reach 20%. Those employed worked any jobs they could get, often accepting working conditions normally considered to be unacceptable, writes Hanna Andrykowska, Louis Burke Architects, Dublin
A Postcard From Abroad … Hanna Andrykowska
December 2001 — Those unemployed faced financial and psychological stress in their unsuccessful search for work. Many had to face a tough choice – stay or leave – and, at the end of 2001, I myself faced this choice.
By that time the roar of the Celtic Tiger had reached Poland. Discussed widely in the media, this phenomenon generated opportunities for architects in Ireland. I decided to go abroad. It would not be the first time for me as I had already spent over a year in Australia. My intention was to go to Ireland for a year, maybe two, hopefully returning home with wider horizons, valuable work experience, fluent English and better prospects of finding a good job closer to my family.
February 2002 — I boarded a bus in my home city of Poznan and embarked on the 24- hour journey to Dublin. Job applications had preceded me and pre-arranged accommodation viewings were awaiting me. I had a plan of action, a heavy suitcase and a positive attitude. Dublin welcomed me with grey skies and mild weather. I soon discovered that the weather is the main subject of conversation in Ireland, namely wind, rain and wind-driven rain. I also quickly learned that dampness is one of the main problems in old and new buildings alike.
Weather aside, I loved Dublin at first sight – its location, scale, people, way of life and green spaces. I recall gazing at cranes dotted around the horizon and a local architect saying that even a monkey with a pencil would get a job these days. So, after first renting a room and sorting out all the necessary paperwork, I did get a job. There were lots of surprises. Buildings were designed differently. I’m yet to grasp the point of two separate taps for hot and cold water on a hand basin; or wall vents, which to my mind allow cold drafts inside; or why carpet is favoured in toilets and kitchens. Area rugs are a great way to tie a room together, but they’re not going to do your décor any favors when they start looking grungy, at rug cleaning Dublin services can find cleaning services for your carpet. Use these tips to learn how to clean your area rugs so they look nice and last longer. After cleaning so many unwanted garbage, waste material are gathered. To dispose this material I call to dumpster service. If you also want this service then visit to www.dumposaurus.com/ website.
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Furthermore, I was used to most buildings having basements. When I first spotted exposed waste and water pipes outside a building I was convinced it was a mistake. This would be disastrous in Poland where the water in the pipes would freeze during our cold winters. As an architect I found it unsettling that not only could any unqualified individual prepare and submit a planning application, but also that the sort of detailed information required in Poland was usually lacking. Another eye-opener was learning that the title “architect” was not legally regulated at the time.
February 2013 — Much has changed over the past 11 years. Poland has joined the EU and there are now cheap direct flights between Dublin and my home city. However, one of the major changes I have observed has been the increased interest in, and available information on, “sustainability” in a range of Irish contexts. The public is now more aware, participating in implementing not only obligatory requirements introduced by Irish and EU laws and regulations, but also many voluntary tasks reflecting their own evolving beliefs. Manifestations of these regulatory and philosophical changes include – organic food, recycling, a plastic bag levy, electric cars, renewable energy technologies and Building Energy Rating (BER), to name a few.
Construction industry professionals have embraced these changes in their approaches to design and construction of buildings and the external environment. Various aspects of energy production and consumption are being addressed … some highly visible, others less apparent. The following are a few observations on daily life in Ireland showing how some issues are tackled, or not.
Water, for example, present everywhere, seems in unlimited supply and is therefore taken for granted. Consequently, it is widely wasted and its quality is compromised due to factors including pollution, failing distribution systems, leaks and sheer human carelessness. New moves towards rain water harvesting, dual flush toilets, mixer taps and water charges are, in my opinion, all welcome.
In Poznan I used to cycle everywhere but in Dublin I find the inadequate cycle paths discouraging. Instead I choose to walk and am delighted to find that from my front door walking to work takes only 50 minutes, and to town, only 40. While out walking swinging my umbrella I pop this postcard in a green mail box and it dawns on me – I am Irish now. My postcard from abroad has turned into a postcard from my new home.