Researchers at UCD


Orla Murphy

Lecturer/Assistant Professor

School Of Architecture, Plan & Env Pol
Richview Sch of Architecture
Dublin 4

Tel: +353 1 7162757


An architect in private practice, I have been involved with the teaching Architectural Design and History and Theory of Architecture in the School of Architecture since 1996. On graduating from UCD in 1995, I worked with Gerry Cahill Architects and subsequently with Grafton Architects.  Between 2004 and 2011 I worked in the Westport studio of Simon J Kelly + Partners Architects focusing on housing, school design and the development of architectural practice within Irish towns.  In December 2014 I founded Custom Architecture, which specialises in design, research and engagement practice.

In 2007 I was appointed architect in residence by Cavan County Council, and spent a year investigating and mapping the public space of Cavan town. This research culminated in the exhibition and book Atlas of Cavan, which was first launched in November 2008. Arising out of this research I was awarded the Kevin Kieran Award for 2009-2011 by the Arts Council/OPW, which supported my research in practice, into the changing Irish rural town.  This research was based on a fieldwork based exploration of the medium-sized rural town as a viable urban alternative to the city. An important aspect of the research has been the dissemination of its findings; through publication, public talks and workshops and through animated film.  

I was involved with Building Material, the Journal of the Architectural Association of Ireland between 2002-2008 and was editor of Issues 17 and 18. I have also contributed to Architecture Ireland, the RIAI Annual Review and the Irish Arts Review and was joint editor of the UCD Architecture Yearbook in 2012 and 2013. I am co-presenter of Building Ireland, a documentary series examining Ireland's built heritage produced by Esras for RTE.

My work in practice and the academy is based within the broader question of how architecture can be a part of positive societal change. I continue to be interested in how architecture can engage with a public audience and in testing and employing combinations of media and formats to achieve this, and in developing methodologies of participatory planning and design.


Honours and Awards

Year: 2017.
Title: Mary Mulvihil Media Award for Building Ireland
Year: 2014.
Title: Best Educational Building_Highly Commended_Oughterard National School
Year: 2013.
Title: RIAI Best Research Project - Highly Commended
Year: 2013.
Title: Galway Film Fleadh - Special Mention
Year: 2013.
Title: Community Recognition Award
Year: 2012.
Title: AAI Special Mention
Year: 2009.
Title: Kevin Kieran Award 2009-2011
Year: 2007.
Title: Opus Architectural and Construction Award
Year: 2006.
Title: Silver Medal for Housing


Association: Royal Institute of Architects of Ireland, Function/Role: Member
Association: Architectural Association of Ireland, Function/Role: Former Committee member

Conference Contributions

Orla Murphy (2017) Barriers & Opportunities for adaptive re-use of vacant space in towns: Ballina Case Study. [Invited Oral Presentation], Town Centre Health Check Pilot Project, Dublin Castle , 16-MAR-17 - 16-MAR-17.
Orla Murphy (2015) Pig's Ear into Silk Purse: the Predicament of Small Houses. [Invited Oral Presentation], Realising the Hidden Potential of Irish Towns, Heritage Council, Kilkenny , 11-NOV-15 - 11-NOV-15.
Murphy, Orla; Hughes, Fiona (2016) Adaptation. [Chaired Session], AIARG 2016, CCAE , 29-JAN-16 - 30-JAN-16.
Murphy, O and Hughes, F (2014) And Action!: Keeping it Real in Dublin's Suburbs. [International Refereed Conference], aae 2014 Living and Learning, University of Sheffield , 04-SEP-14 - 05-SEP-14.
Orla Murphy (2013) About Town. [Invited Oral Presentation], RIAI Annual Conference, Dublin , 29-SEP-13 - 29-SEP-13.
Orla Murphy (2014) An Interview with Prof. Cathal O'Neill. [Other], RIAI Annual Conference 2014, RDS Dublin , 12-OCT-14 - 12-OCT-14.
Orla Murphy (2013) TOWN. [Invited Lecture], Carlow 800+, Carlow , 24-AUG-13 - 24-AUG-13.
Orla Murphy (2012) The Place of Ritual in Irish Towns. [Invited Oral Presentation], May on our Doorstep, Linenhall Arts Centre, Castlebar , 01-MAY-12 - 01-JUN-12.
Orla Murphy (2012) The Daily Dance. [Oral Presentation], Mapping Spectral Traces - Corp_Real symposium, Town Hall Theatre, Galway , 19-APR-12 - 21-APR-12.
Orla Murphy, Hugh Campbell, Lisa Cassidy (2012) Centenary Symposium. [Conference Organising Committee Member], Architecture for Society: Practices and Projects, Earlsfort Terrace, Dublin , 24-MAR-12 - 24-MAR-12.
Orla Murphy (2012) Town. [Invited Lecture], Engage Architecture Festival, Daingean and Bangher Libraries , 07-MAR-12 - 08-MAR-12.
Orla Murphy (2011) Town. [Invited Lecture], Cashel Arts Fest, Cashel , 15-NOV-12 - 15-NOV-12.
Orla Murphy (2012) About town. [Invited Oral Presentation], Architecture for Society: Practices and Projects, Earlsfort Terrace, Dublin , 24-MAR-12 - 24-MAR-12.
Orla Murphy (2012) StreetLife. [Invited Lecture], Heritage as an Engine of Economic Growth in mid-sized towns, Wood Quay venue, Dublin , 26-JAN-12 - 26-JAN-12.
Orla Murphy (2012) StreetLife. [Refereed Abstracts], Untitled: All Ireland Architectural Research Group, DIT Bolton Street , 20-JAN-12 - 20-JAN-12.


Committee : APEP Research Committee


Employer: Custom Architecture
Position: Owner
Employer: University College Dublin
Position: Studio Lecturer
Employer: Simon J Kelly + Partners Architects
Position: Project Architect
Employer: Grafton Architects
Position: Project Architect
Employer: Gerry Cahill Architects
Position: Project Architect


Year 1998 Institution: Royal Institute of Architects of Ireland
Qualification: MRIAI Subject: Certificate in Professional Practice
Year 1995 Institution:
Qualification: BArch Subject:

Outreach Activities

In 2016 our M.Arch group, Finding Home is based in Coolock and engaged with the Irish Housing Network and their support group based in Coolock. Our students are mapping the experience of homelessness and presenting their responses for feedback to clients of the Irish Housing Network in a live-project format. My role is co-ordinator of the group and a tutor in the module. 
In June 2016 I co-ordinated the APEP input in the inaugural UCD Festival with Emmett Scanlon, Hugh Campbell, Rebecca Patterson and Katie O'Neill.  My role was to organise a panel discussion on the Housing Crisis, help coordinate an exhibition of M.Arch work and liaise with the UCD Festival committee in event planning.
APEP Marketing Films
I am currently collaborating on a series of short promotional films for APEP with Brian Kelly, Katie O'Neill and Hugh Campbell. 
Atlantic in Mulranny
In 2014 Fiona Hughes and I coordinated an M.Arch design studio in Mulranny Co. Mayo. Our students met with local stakeholders, mapped the village, designed in response to the needs of the community and presented these designs back in public exhibition format. My role was to instigate and co-ordinate this outreach in parallel with teaching the module.

Journals Edited

Building Material: Editor.

Other Activities

Describing Architecture 2014: Stage set design drawings for Theatre Works West production of Uncle Vanya by Anton Chekhov.
Film Screenings of TOWN:
Kerry Film Festival
Open House Galway
Westport Arts Festival
Corona Cork Film Festival
Chicago Irish Film Festival - Honourable Mention
Galway Film Fleadh - Special Mention
Blackrock Animated Film Festival - Community Recognition Award
DOK Leipzig 
Mapping Towns Project in collaboration with Offaly County Council.
A programme was designed to enable communities in 5 towns in Offaly to use their embedded knowledge to map their towns with the assistance of local architects who acted as mentors and facilitators in the process.  
The project was part of ENGAGE and was supported by the Engaging with Architecture Scheme supported by the Arts Council. 


2009 A Day in the Light, Westport, Dublin, and Cobh

2009 Everyday Architecture Mayo, Westport

2008 Atlas of Cavan, Farnham Library, Cavan

2007 Westport Re-Imagined, Westport, Co. Mayo



Orla Murphy (2012) Town: origins, morphology & future. Westport, Ireland: Orla Murphy. [Details]
Orla Murphy and Dermot McCabe; (2008) Atlas of Cavan. Mayo: Self published. [Details]

Book Chapters

Murphy, Orla (2013) 'TOWN: Origins, Morphology & Future; a reflection on a research project on the future of Irish towns' In: Dr Sandra O'Connell (eds). The RIAI Annual Review. Dublin, Ireland: RIAI. , pp.14-17 [Details]
Murphy, Orla; McCabe, Dermot; Contributor Simon J Kelly + Partners Architects (2012) 'EDGE OF TOWN: Claremorris Local Area Offices' In: John O'Regan and Nicola Deary (eds). New Irish Architecture 27. Kinsale, Co. Cork: Gandon Editions. , pp.118-125 Available Online [Details]
Orla Murphy; (1997) 'Building in the Irish Landscape' In: Annette Becker, Dr. John Olley and Wilfried Wang (eds). Ireland 20th Century Architecture. Munich: Prestel. [Details]

Edited Books

Hayes, Michael; Murphy, Orla (Ed.). (2013) UCD Architecture Yearbook 2013. Dublin: UCD. [Details]
Orla Murphy, Stephen Tierney, Lisa Cassidy (Ed.). (2012) UCD Architecture 100. Dublin: UCD. [Details]

Peer Reviewed Journals

Murphy, O; Hughes, F (2015) ''And ... Action!' Keeping it Real in Dublin's Suburbs: The use of moving image in the architectural design process'. Charrette, 2 (1):57-68. Available Online [Details]

Other Journals

Orla Murphy (2016) 'Town and Country: A review of Roscommon County Council Offices by ABK Architects' Architecture Ireland . [Details]
Murphy, Orla (2013) 'To School under a Big Sky - review of an Carnaun National School by Paul Dillon Architects' Architecture Ireland . Link to full text [Details]
Orla Murphy (2012) 'Extended Territory, a review of Housing at Kilmeena Co. Mayo' Architecture Ireland 2 (262) :34-35. Link to full text [Details]
Orla Murphy (2009) 'Community Purpose' Irish Arts Review 26 (4) :108-111. [Details]
Murphy Orla, editor; (2009) 'Global Local' Building Material (18) . [Details]
Murphy Orla, editor; (2007) 'Critical Practice' Building Material (17) . [Details]
Murphy, Orla and Naughton, Elaine; (2006) 'Read Write Draw' Building Material (15) :3. [Details]
Murphy, Orla; (2004) 'Existenz Minimum' Building Material (12) :56. [Details]
Muprhy, Orla; (2004) 'Zumthor's Baths, a sensual guide' Building Material (12) :44-47. [Details]

Conference Publications

Orla Murphy, Sean Carolan (2016) Geodesign: A new planning paradigm for the Irish Landscape? Fieldwork: AlterRurality 3 Letterfrack [Details]
Orla Murphy (2015) From Pig's Ear to Silk Purse: The Predicament of Small Houses Realising The Hidden Potential of Rural Towns: Heritage Council Conference 2015 [Details]
Orla Murphy (2015) The survival of rural towns: And is it something we really want? Mac Gill Summer School 2015 [Details]
Orla Murphy (2015) Compact Town: Continuous Suburb National Housing Conference 2015 [Details]
Orla Murphy (2015) The Direction of Space: Why Architects use Film AIARG 2015 [Details]
Orla Murphy (2014) Close the Gap Irish Architecture Foundation Symposium [Details]


Orla Murphy (2012) From House to Home: A Long Conversation. Galway, Ireland: Catalogue Link to full text [Details]


Gray, Brian; Kelly, Peter; Hegarty, Susan; Joyce, Tim; Murphy, Orla (2016) Building Ireland: Series 2. Video/TV [Details]
Murphy, Orla (2016) RTE Prime Time - Special edition on Housing. Video/TV [Details]
Gray, Brian; Kelly, Peter; Murphy, Orla; Hegarty, Susan; Joyce, Tim (2014) Building Ireland. Esras: Video/TV [Details]


Murphy, Orla (2016) IAF Architects in Schools Programme. Workshops [Details]
Orla Murphy, Prof. Carl Steinitz, Dr Hrishi Ballal (2015) Mulranny Geodesign Workshop. Workshops [Details]
Murphy, Orla; Quinn, Blaithin (2014) Beyond Pebbledash Engagement Programme. Culturstruction, Ireland: Workshops [Details]


Murphy, Orla (2016) Heritage Week 2016: Mulranny Geodesign Workshop. Presentation [Details]

Working Paper

Murphy, Orla; Hegarty, Orla; Scanlon, Emmett; Pike, Michael; (2016) Submission to Oireachtas Committee on Housing and Homelessness. Working Paper [Details]

Film Production

Orla Murphy and Orla Mc Hardy (2012) TOWN. Film Production [Details]


Research Interests

My recent research has focused on two main themes: the Irish rural town and public engagement with the future of settlement and spatial design.  

This research into the Irish rural town has been disseminated via short animated film and written publication. Town: origins, morphology and future was published in November 2012 with the support of the Heritage Council. A short animated film, called Town, which I wrote and directed with Orla Mc Hardy has screened and been awarded at film festivals nationally and internationally. This research work was awarded Highly Commended in the RIAI Awards in 2013 in the Best Research Project category. I was recently commissioned to research and write guidelines for traditional shopfronts in Donegal by Donegal Co. Co.

I am also interested in public engagement with architecture and how the discipline can adapt its means of communication to increase public debate and discussion of issues relating to contemporary architecture and the built environment.  I worked with Offaly County Council on a project called Mapping Towns, which involved working with communities in 5 rural towns within Offaly to assist them in the mapping of their own urban space, with a few to forming strategies for their future development.  In 2014 I designed and delivered a series of public workshops (with Bláithin Quinn and Culturstruction) as part of Beyond Pebbledash, supported by Dublin City Arts Office, Dublin City Council (Paul Kearns + Motti Ruimy), and the National Museum of Ireland, funded by the Arts Council under the Engaging with Architecture Scheme. In September 2015 I collaborated with Prof. Carl Steinitz and Dr Hrishi Ballal in the coordination and facilitation of the first Geodesign Workshop in Ireland which took place in Mulranny Co. Mayo and was funded by the Heritage Council, Irish Design 2015, Mayo Co. Co. and Mulranny Community Futures. This project is currently in a second phase of negotiation between public, technical experts and municipal representatives.

These interests continue to inform teaching projects in the Graduate School in UCD Architecture, which have included M.Arch Y2 thesis groups over the last 4 years, M.Arch Dissertation supervision and ongoing studio projects in M.Arch Y1.



Teaching Philosophy

I believe the space of the University and in particular the shared endeavour within the Studio culture can provide a stimulating environment for students to define and hone their intellectual and practical approach to architecture. This foundation can then be reinforced through creative exchange with aligned disciplines.

Modules Coordinated

201600   ARCT40050     Architecture: Architectural Design VIII

Enhancement of Teaching

Review and Enhancement of Curriculum

Developing as a Teacher

Innovation & Leadership

I am interested in testing ways which the university can expand its role of research and design beyond the confines of the academy, to engage with real issues, communities and spatial challenges, and in developing innovative pedagogies that explore this potential.


Internal Collaborators

Fiona Hughes, Emmett Scanlon, Michael Pike, Stephen Mulhall, Mary Laheen, Orla Hegarty

External Collaborators

The Peter McVerry Trust - Francis Doherty, Nyle Lennon
The Irish Housing Network - Alan Driscoll, Aisling Hederman
The Heritage Council - Alison Harvey, Colm Murray
Prof. Carl Steinitz
Dr Hrishi Ballal
Mulranny Community Futures Group - Sean Carolan
IAF Architects in Schools Programme
Esras/RTE - Peter Kelly and Brian Gray
Orla Mc Hardy_Artist, animator and teacher based in Chicago, USA and Ireland
Dermot McCabe_Architect, Simon J Kelly + Partners Architects, Westport
Rachel McKenna_Offaly County Council
Ruairi O'Cuiv_Dublin City Arts Office