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Snapshot: The Life of a Dublin Architect

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As a Registered Member of the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland and leader in our Dublin Studio, Zubi Efobi has a deep expertise in designing mixed-use developments, hospitality, and commercial fit-outs. Zubi leads the Dublin design team through all phases of design and construction from visioning, feasibility studies, and planning to documentation and on-site construction. We caught up with Zubi to learn more. 

 

What inspires your creativity?

Since the age of twelve, I’ve been fascinated with the art form of design. I love taking photographs and I carry my camera wherever I go. I believe every building tells a story and I always wonder how it was built. Photography gives me the training to observe light and shade and study the function and use of aesthetics within a space. I find inspiration in many places and am especially fond of bridges and exploring how one space flow into another. You can see my favorite places in black-and-white photographs in my book, Dublin Photo Story.

Dublin Photo Story
An accomplished author and photographer, Zubi recently published a book chronicling some of Dublin’s most iconic bridges and buildings.

What’s the more important lesson you’ve learned in practicing architecture?

The most important lesson I’ve learned from my years of practicing architecture is how to best observe and listen to the client. The visualization process helps create useable spaces by considering innovations for problem-solving, cost implications, and project management.

 

What do you see as your strengths?

My biggest strengths are my knowledge of various project types — the technical aspects are especially a welcome challenge. I love learning and collaborating with my team members and enjoy mentoring but also learning from them. In the Dublin office we are constantly learning from one another, asking questions, and sharing our diverse knowledge. The friendly culture at Corgan brings about togetherness and makes working here a joy.

 

What challenges are facing your industry in Ireland?

The two major challenges in Ireland are obtaining financing and navigating administrative bottlenecks, especially in the pre-planning stages. We are currently working on a housing project and are in the foundational stage. Engaging with the Council Planning Department and completing compliance documents is an arduous process taking hours and reams of paperwork. Helping the client navigate this process is one of the most important resources we bring to the table.

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Bespoke accents reflect historic Dublin to create a sense of place for Paul Sheeran,  well-known Irish retailer.

What project are you most proud of?

Our team recently completed the interior fit-out for Paul Sheeran Jewellers, a boutique retail store for watch brands in an upscale neighborhood in Dublin. The design transformed a 600-square-meter vacant ground-floor fit-out into a gorgeous retail space with eight individual European luxury watch brands within a single enclosure. As visitors move from one unit to the next, each space functions as a different customer experience. The project won the 2023 ADI Award for Retail Design.

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Corgan designed eight boutique spaces for Paul Sheeran Jewellers to showcase eight luxury watch brands in one location.

 

What were some of the design challenges?

Time and budget constraints along with the design complexity pushed our team to come up with innovative design solutions. Managing the project meant connecting and collaborating remotely with eight design directors across Europe, primarily in Switzerland. To establish seamless communication and reduce potential errors, we devoted substantial time to consistently liaising with each client to efficiently exchange accurate information throughout the project, especially during the pre-construction stage. I provided the documentation for each one the eight boutique spaces to meet government regulations and compliance — which was no easy feat. 

Each client had a different vision and expectations. We created a neutral color pallet for cohesion with a variety of bespoke finishes and finishings to distinguish the look and feel of each space. As visitors walk through the shop, they discover multiple lounge areas, merchandise displays, lighting, and elements unique to each brand. 

watch boutique
Located in the bustling heart of Dublin’s City Centre, the high-end jewelry store appeals to the sophisticated clientele serves as a unique retail destination.

The critical milestone was opening four stores in time for Christmas, followed by the grand opening of the four remaining stores in the spring. To meet the stringent deadline, we held weekly team meetings, addressed the technical elements down to the last detail, and organized and coordinated construction. Creating the design for a retailer of this exposure and scope was monumental. Completing the project successfully and on time is a testament to how well our team works together.

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Zubi Efobi

Learn more about Zubi's story at Corgan.

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