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We Can Build Better

We Can Build Better is an independent voluntary group of architects, engineers and other construction professionals campaigning for positive changes to how we build in Ireland, focusing on the quality of the publicly-funded buildings and places we are making today.

We are trying to highlight some issues with how our state procures its buildings. We think that the state is missing key opportunities to raise the quality of life for our citizens.

Our ongoing aim is to create debate and discussion about how we build publicly-funded buildings in Ireland, with a view to influencing procedural and legislative changes that lead to better places for us all to live, work and relax.

What Are the Issues?

Since our country exited the downturn there has been a substantial increase in the amount the state is spending on the construction and refurbishment of buildings.

Somewhat counterintuitively this vastly increased workload is being awarded to an ever decreasing number of architecture companies.

This is because the state procurement system is unwieldy and complex, with an assessment system which is opaque and inconsistent.

We Think the Problem
is Public Procurement.
So How Do We Fix This?
Our Proposals
social value matters.png
Social Value Matters
experts are useful.png
Experts are Useful
Value is not all about cost.png
Value isn't All About Cost
its all about the people.png
It's All About the People
talent is Adaptable.png
Talent is Adaptable
simplicity rules.png
Simplicity Rules
size isn't everything.png
Size isn't Everything
the eu is not the problem.png
The EU is not the Problem
Social Value Matters
Social Value Matters                
The Issue

Public procurement currently favours large companies which tend to be based in large population centres. As a result, the social value of public procurement isn’t distributed to the widest territory.

What Needs to Change
  • Acknowledge the wider social value of employing local SME companies.

  • Acknowledge the environmental benefits of employing companies local to the project.

Our Recommendations
  • Encourage collaboration and joint venture submissions between large and SME companies.

  • Large companies who collaborate with SME’s score higher in assessment.

Value Isn't All About Cost
Value isn't All About Cost          
The Issue

Public procurement encourages low cost tendering without adequate mechanisms for comparing the quality of the service being offered between tenders. A low cost for a poor service does not give value for money.

What Needs to Change
  • Acknowledge that quality of service is intrinsic to value for money.

  • Acknowledge that an adequate service can’t be provided below a specific base cost.

Our Recommendations
  • Set a fee range for a service within which tenderers bid and then assess tenders primarily on quality.

  • Tenderers who bid towards the top of the range must demonstrate what extra they bring to the service.

Talent is Adaptable
Talent is Adaptable                 
The Issue

Primary consideration is given to companies who have recently carried out work which is similar in scale and type to the work being tendered for. This produces a closed loop which excludes new entrants to the market. It is anti-competitive and can lead to a monopoly.

What Needs to Change
  • Acknowledge that the successful delivery of a future service is not dependent on only having carried out work which is similar in scale and type before.

  • Acknowledge that aspects of projects can be similar between different building and project types.

Our Recommendations
  • Broaden the experience criteria to include qualitative assessment of previous work, even if it is not similar in scale or type.

  • Include expert professionals on panels to assess the scope and nature of previous work.

Size isn't Everything
Size isn't Everything                
The Issue

Current suitability assessment criteria equate turnover with capacity, assuming that the greater the size of the company, the greater the scale of individual projects it can undertake. Most large or very large projects within a design company will be carried out by a team of max. 4-6 people.

What Needs to Change
  • Acknowledge that turnover is not always an appropriate method of assessing capacity and that minimum turnover thresholds exclude SME’s.

Our Recommendations
  • Consider a maximum turnover threshold for specific projects to encourage SME participation in public procurement.

Experts are Useful
Experts are Useful                   
The Issue

It is commonplace for tenders for professional services to be assessed by panels which have no expert knowledge in the sector. Because of this, quality assessment tends to be about how the service is delivered, rather than the service itself or product the service will produce.

What Needs to Change
  • Acknowledge that tenders should not be assessed by panels which have no knowledge of the service or product they are procuring.

Our Recommendations
  • Include construction professionals in every assessment team for tenders for construction professional services.

It's All About the People
It's All About the People            
The Issue

Current procurement practice views companies who can present a long-standing variety of previous work as less risky. But procuring a service is about procuring people. A company’s portfolio is not necessarily a reflection of the experience of current or future staff members.

What Needs to Change
  • Acknowledge that due to a misapprehension of risk, talent in small or young companies is being overlooked.

  • Acknowledge that SME’s provide direct access to experience and talent which is not necessarily reflected in the age or size of the company.

Our Recommendations
  • Attach a greater assessment weight to people’s CV’s and experience, especially SME owner/directors who provide continuous expertise to a project.

Simplicity Rules
Simplicity Rules                       
The Issue

The main purpose of public procurement is to provide transparency. In reality it is overly complex and made up of opaque processes and terminology. Tender briefing documents are often vague, open to interpretation, and difficult to price.

What Needs to Change
  • Acknowledge that the overly complex nature of public procurement excludes SME’s.

  • Acknowledge that poor quality tender documentation leads to wasted resources and poor tender returns.

Our Recommendations
  • Encourage greater SME participation by simplifying public procurement.

  • Ensure briefing documents are clear, concise and contain a quantifiable schedule of requirements.

  • Create a centralised tender ‘passport’ which avoids duplication of information between tenders e.g. ESPD (European Single Procurement Document).

The EU is Not the Problem
The EU is Not the Problem          
The Issue

A common perception is that the overly bureaucratic nature of Irish public procurement is due to compliance with EU Directives. Other EU countries do not implement the same level of complexity and bureaucracy in their public procurement systems e.g. Denmark, Belgium, UK (former EU member).

What Needs to Change
  • Acknowledge that the Irish procurement system is a national interpretation of the EU Directives.

  • Acknowledge that the Irish interpretation deviates from the actual requirements of EU regulations.

Our Recommendations
  • Learn from best procurement practice in other EU countries, which includes design competitions, centralised procurement documents, lack of frameworks or bundling of work into lots, and identification of active measures for engaging SME’s.

Get Involved
Join the Campaign

Please read our mandate and sign up to our mailing list.

Complete our survey and share.

Follow us on social media.

Use #wecanbuildbetter in social media posts.

Engage in any debate or discussion relating to the procurement system.

Speak to members of the RIAI Council or to your local City and County Councils about issues important to our campaign.

Follow and share our news.

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The list of signatories below will be updated regularly.


Please complete our survey and share it

with anyone you know who is affected.


Achim Gottstein Dip Arch B Arch Sc MRIAI RIBA

Adela Gomez MArch 

Aidan Butler BArch MRIAI

Aidan Hawkins BArch

Aideen Lowery MRIAI

Ailbhe Cunningham BArch

Ailbhe Walsh BArch

Ailish Drake BArchSc MA MRIAI

Aisling Geary Architectural Graduate

Aislinn Nic Dhomhnaill MRIAI

Alanah Doyle BScArch MArch

Aleksandar Kostic

Alex Curtis

Alex Doran BArch DipArch ARB

Alice Casey BScArch Dip Arch MRIAI ARB PhD

Alice Clancy BArch

Alice Clarke BArch

Allister Coyne MRIAI

Amanda Bone BArch MRIAI

Ami Skimming Black BA (Hons) Dip Arch RIBA RIAS

Amy O'Connor MSc Proj Mgt

Andrea Doyle MRIAI

Andrew Chaney BArch

Andrew Brady MRIAI

Andrew Clancy BScArch BArch MRIAI PhD

Andy Howell BScArch MArch MRIAI

Andy O’Carroll BArch

Angela Rolfe FRIAI

Anna Cooke BArch MA ARB

Anna Hofheinz Dip Ing MRIAI

Anna Meehan Dip Arch BSc Arch MRIAI   

Anna Pierce BArch MRIAI

Anne Gorman 

Anne Henry BArch

Annie Fletcher

Antóin Doyle BArch MRIAI

Aoife O' Donnell BArch, MArch

Aonghus McDonnell BArch

Archie O’Donnell

Barry Kane MRIAI

Barry McKenna MRIAI

Ben Mullen, BArch, BA Fine Art, MRIAI

Benjamen Cooney BArch

Bob Wet Architect

Bram D’Hoedt MScArch BScArch MRIA

Brenda Leonard Dip Arch Hons MRIAI ARBI

Brendan McLoughlin

Brendan Redmond MRIAI

Brett Mahon BScArch MArch

Briain Moriarty BArch

Brian Farrell Civil Engineer MIEI

Brian Grubb

Brian O'Reilly BBS Business Studies

Brian Thompson

Brian Ward

Brona Waldron MArch

Cáit Ní Cheallacháin BArch FRIAI Conservation 

Caoimhe Jauch

Caomhán Murphy, BArch RIBA

Carol Tallon MPRII

Caroline Morrin

Catherine Blaney

Catherine Crowe MRIAI

Catherine Mara MRIAI

Chris Boyle BScArch

Chris Patterson MRIAI ARB

Christophe Antipas ArchEPFL

Christopher Olden BScArch MArch

Cian Deegan BArch DipArch MRIAI PhD

Cian Hiney CAI

Cian McLoughlin BArch

Ciara Reddy MRIAI

Ciarán Ferrie BScArch BArch MRIAI MIDI

Claire Carr BComm MSc Marketing

Claire Fitzpatrick BArch

Claudia Murray BArch

Cllr Eddie Fennessy

Colin Eaton BArch MRIAI

Colin Mac Suibhne BArch MArch

Colin McDonnell BArch

Colm Colgan CEng

Colm Moore BSc Arch BArch MRIAI PhD

Conor Hourigan

Conor Maguire

Conor McGeough ACA

Conor McGowan BArch MArch BE M Eng Sc Hdip ABRC

Conor McHugh MRIAI

Conor Murphy BArch DipArch ARB

Daisy Kinahan Murphy M.Arch

Damien Curry MArch ARB RIBA MRIAI

Damien Culligan BArch ARB MRIAI

Damien Hannigan MRIAI RIBA ARB

Dan Leahy BSc(Hons) Architecture MArch

Daniel Montgomery BArch

Daniel Ryan BSc BArch MDesSc(SustDes) PhD

Danny Holland Architect

Darren Feldon B.Arch BAS Dip Arch (SA) RIBA

Darren Monahan BArch

Daryl Mulvihill BSc BArch MA

David Jameson MRIAI

David Lawless BArch

David Leech ARB MRIBA

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David Magennis BScArch MArch MRIAI ARB

David McInerney Architect BArch PDAP

David O'Brien MRIAI

David Smith BArch


David Williams MRIAI ARB

Declan Feeney MRIAI

Declan Scullion MRIAI

Deepka Abbi BArch

Deirdre Meagher

Denis Byrne RIAI RIBA

Denise Murray MRIAI MArch Urban Design

Derrick Murray - Quantity Surveyor

Dervla MacManus BScArch BArch MA PhD

Desmond Whelan

Dominic Stevens MRIAI

Donal Hickey DipArch Tech DipArch BArchSc 

​Donal Lally MRIAI

Donal O'Herlihy

Douglas Carson MRIAI AAI President 2010

Dr Alan Mee FRIAI

Éadaoin Weisz Quinn BScArch

Eamon Peregrine BscArch March MRIAI

Eanna O'Tuama, Fire Engineer

Eibhlín Ní Chathasaigh MArch MRIAI

Eileen O'Driscoll

Elizabeth Clancy

Elizabeth Clyne MRIAI

Elliott Dunn BA(Hons) DipArch

Emer O’Daly BArch MArch

Eimear Hearne MRIAI

Elizabeth Burns Architect

Emma Geoghegan BA Arch MArch MSc Urban Design MRIAI

Emma Gilleece

Emmett Scanlon

Eoin Ó Broin TD

Erang Park BA BArch

Esmonde O'Briain MRIAI

Eugene Mulcaire MRIAI RIBA APM B Arch B A

Evelyn D’Arcy MRIAI

Faela Guiden BArch MRIAI

Fergal Mc Namara MRIAI Conservation Accredited Grade 1

Fearghal Murray BSc MArch RIBA AR

Fiona McLernon BArch

Fionnuala Rogerson B.Arch., FRIAI

Francis Matthews BArch

Frank Monahan BA(Hons) DipArch

Gareth Brennan MRIAI

Gareth Smyth

Gary Lysaght MRIAI

Gary Mongey

Gavin Wheatley BScArch BArch MRIAI

Geoff Power (Documentary Producer)

Geraldine Byrne O’Daly MArchSc MRIAI

Gerard Carty Dip Arch Hons, B Arch Sc Hons FRIAI

Gerard Tohill BSc Arch MArchGerard Tohill BSc Arch MArch

Glen O’Dea BArch

Glenn O'Brien MRIAI

Grace Keeley BArch BScArch MRIAI

Grainne Hassett DipArch BArch Sc FRIAI

Grainne Mc Mahon MRIAI Cons.

Prof. Greg Keeffe

Hannah Crehan BArch

Helen Doyle

Helena McElmeel Dip.Arch B.Arch.Sc MSc.Arch MRIAI

Hugh Campbell

Hugh Ivers 

Hugh Kelly

Hugo Hickey BScArch MArch

Ian O'Reilly MRIAI ARB

Ian Tracy BArch MRIAI

Irenee Scalbert

Isabel Barros, B.Arch. (Hons.) Reg. Arch. MRIAI

Ivan O' Connell BArch

Ivor Hession MRIAI RIBA

James Corbett MRIAI

James Casey Architect

James Forbes BArch

James Hull BArch DipArch ARB

James Rossa O'Hare

Jamie Conway

​Jamie Flynn BArch

Jan Frohburg Dipl Ing Arch

Jane Larmour BSc Arch BArch MRIAI RIBA ARB

Jarek Adamczuk DipArch BArch

Jason Ladrigan BArch

Jeffrey Bolhuis IR MSc Arch

Jennifer Hogan BArch MRIAI

Jennifer Kenefick MRIAI

Jennifer O'Donnell BScArch BArch

Jennifer Wilson BScArch Tech ​​BScArch MArch ​MRIAI

Jessica Conway

Jessica Keller

Jessica O’Grady HB

Jim Doran

Jimi Shields DipArch BArch Sc AMILI

Joanne Lyons BScArch BArch

Joe Stokes BArch MRIAI

John Crowley BArch MARB MRIAI

John Dorman MRIAI

John Egan BSc

John F Casey BE CEng MIEI

John Leetch RIBA

John Nolan BComm MScMP BScArch MArch MRIAI

John Pigott BE, Cert Eng Tech, CEng, MIEI


Jonathan Black ARB MRIAI

Jonathan Curran 

Jonny Mc Kenna BScArch BArch MA(Urban Design) MRIAI RIBA

Judith Hill, Dip Arch, PhD

Justin VBA

Karolina Backman MArch

Kevin Barry

Keith Kelliher MSCSI MRICS FCIArb

Kevin Holmes BArchSc DipArch MRIAI

Kevin McSherry BArch

Kieran O' Brien MRIAI

Kira Handley

Kirsten Elliott MRIAI 

Laura Cowan BA(Hons) DipArch

Laura Evans B.A (Hons) Dip Arch ARB RIBA

Laura Harty BSc Arch BArch MA ARB

Laura O’Gorman MRIAI Local Authority Architect

Lauren Small BArch(Hons) DipArch MRIAI 

Laurence Lord BA BArch MRIAI

Leah Doyle

Leah Hogan MArch

Lee Culligan DipArch BArch 

Liam Mc Inerney MRIAI

Lisa Godson

Livia Hurley BArch Sc. MLitt

Louise Cotter BArch MRIAI MRIBA

Louise McCarthy BArch

Lucy Jones MRIAI

Lucy Rainey

Luís Pedro

Luke Benson BArch

Luke Butler M.Arch

Luke McCall

Luke Reilly

Mandy Channon MRIAI ARB

Marc Golden MArch

Marc Kilkenny MRIAI ARB

Marcus Donaghy

Marcus Mulvihill BScArch BArch

Mark Arigho BA Arch BArch MRIAI ARB

Mark Corcoran BArch BscArchTech

Mark Grehan

Mark McCormack MArch 

Matt Mc Cullagh BArch

Matthew Hand

Matthew Johnston

Matthew Kernan BScArch MArch

Matthew Webb BArch

Maxime Laroussi

Megan Etherton BScArch BArch


Merritt Bucholz

Michael McGarry FIAI RIBA 

Michael O’Connor B Arch MRIAI RIBA CA

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Michael Pike MArchSc BArch BSc MRIAI

Michali Hyams

Mike O'Dell BArch MArch

Miriam Delaney MRIAI

Muirne Lydon MA Conservation

Neasa Hourigan TD

Niamh Chambers MRIAI

Nicola Blake 

Nicola Ryan BArchSc DipArch MRIAI

Nigel Holmes BArch

Noreile Breen BArch MArch PGR MRIAI

Orla Hegarty BArch FRIAI RIBA

Orla O'Kane ARB RIBA

Orla Murphy MRIAI

Orla Reynolds

Patricia Geraghty BSc Arch tech BArch MRIAI

Patrick Mooney BArch PDip Arch

Patrick Wheeler BScArch BArch MRIAI RIBA ARB

Paul Dillon BScArch MArch MRIAI

Paul Durcan

Paul Fox MRIAI

Paul McCreanor RIBA RIAI

Paul Sheeran MRIAI

Peter Brunner BSc(Eng)

Peter Carroll BArch MRIAI

Petrina Tierney MArch

Philip Brady

Philip Duffy BArch

Philip J Doran MArch (Research) BSc Land Arch 

Philippe O Sullivan MRIAI

Phoebe Brady MArch BScArch MRIAI

Rachel Carmody Architect

Rachel Graham BSc Arch MArch

Rae Moore MRIAI MArch DipArch CBiz

Raissa Zanardo BArch

Ralph Montague

Raymund Ryan MArch

Reem Alsabah

Rob Shanahan MRIAI

Robert Bourke BArch DipArch MRIAI

Roisin Connolly BArch

Roisin McDonald BArch 

Ronan Friel MRIAI

Rónan Kenny BSc BArch AAI President 2020

Rosaleen Crushell MRIBA ARB MUBC

Rose Bonner Alexander MRIAI

Rosie Smallwood

Ross Melbourne MRIAI

Ruairi Kelly BArch

Ruth O'Herlihy BScArch BArch MRIAI

Ryan Kennihan BArch MRIAI

Sarah Cremin BArch MArchSc

Sarah Mc Nulty BArch(Hons) Grade 3 Conservation

Séamus Bairéad Architect

Séamus Guidera MRIAI

Seamus Keller

Seán McGee, BScArch MArch ARB

Shane O'Toole HonFRIAI IntFRIBA

Shane Twohig


Siobhán Ní Éanaigh  BArch Hons. FRIAI RIBA PhD

Shane Cotter MRIAI

Shane O'Rourke BArch MRIAI

Simona Castelli

Sinead Scullion MArch

Sinead Stack BArch

Sorcha Maguire BArch 

Stephen Foley

Stephen Johnston B.Arch, BSc. Arch Tech

Stephen Mawhinney BArch

Steve Larkin BSc Arch BArch MRIAI PhD

Steven Moon​

Susan Leahy MA BArch

Susan O'Driscoll BscArch BArch ARB

Susie Lynam

Tom Hegarty MRIAI

Tomas Mac Eoin B.Eng

Tara Kennedy

Therese Nolan BArch

Thomas O Brien BSc Arch BArch MRIAI 

Timothy Dowling BArch

Tom Culligan BE(Hons)

Tom Dane

Tom de Paor BArch FRIAI intFRIBA

Una Daly Riai Riba Arb

Vanya Lambrecht Ward BArch RIBA

William Spratt-Murphy MArch

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