Today RSUA Women in Architecture undertook their inaugural practice visit to Caroline Dickson Architects at the Foyle Civic Trust. After an introduction by Peter Tracey, chair of the Foyle Civic Trust, attendees learned about Caroline’s education and experience, which included a stint at Scott Tallon Walker in Dublin, a year working in a practice in Greece, and some time in Liam McCormick’s office before setting up her own practice in Derry~Londonderry in 1971. In partnership with Hearth Housing Association, Caroline jointly won an RSUA Design Award in 2016 for the restoration of Sion Mills Stables (alongside The Graduate School at Queen’s University Belfast by Consarc Design Group).
The group was joined by Collette Beattie, Conservation Officer for Donegal County Council, who presented a project which they had worked on jointly – the preservation of the Fahan old church (a national monument) – which involved working stone by stone, removing trees one by one, inserting discrete structural ties, while taking care to retain the appearance of a ruin.
RSUA President Joan McCoy said Caroline Dickson was the first architect, never mind female architect, she ever heard of, when her father was working as a plumbing contractor in Derry~Londonderry in her youth. An honest and open conversation around changes in architectural practice over time, female architects, procurement, architecture in Derry~Londonderry and the value of architects sharing resources and knowledge with each other followed. Caroline is a quietly remarkable architect with a rich and diverse portfolio of buildings spanning her award-winning career, and she’s still going strong! RSUA extends its thanks to Caroline and the Foyle Civic Trust for their hospitality.