RIAI puts forward innovative solutions for new housing models
Published: Friday, July 31, 2015
Dublin, Friday 31 July 2015:
The RIAI (Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland) says that rather than just focusing on space standards, a range of well thought-out and innovative solutions are needed to provide new housing models. The RIAI is responding to a review of Dublin City Council’s current space standards in the Dublin City Development Plan, which would allow for significantly smaller units to be built.
Quoting the RIAI Housing Policy 2015 (August launch), RIAI President, Robin Mandal says “Rather than just focusing on apartment size, we need to develop a range of innovative solutions that addresses our changing demographics. One size does not fit all. Irish society is changing and the types of homes we will build need to respond to these new demographics. Most of Ireland’s annual residential output is still 3-4 bedroom homes, however, we are heading towards the European city norm where only 27% of households are families.”
“We have National Standards, which should the benchmark for most planning authorities. We do not need a wide range of standards - we need flexibility so that we can address real needs. For example, it will be difficult for very many of our existing buildings to comply with either the space standards or the regulatory standards. This effectively means that they will not be re-used, leaving our villages, towns and cities without a residential population which is essential not just for their revitalisation, but also to allow for a critical mass that permits sustainable infrastructure such as shops, civic and cultural uses, schools and hospitals", says Mandal.
In its Housing Policy, which takes a holistic view of the best housing to serve this and future generations, the RIAI is putting forward a number of innovative measures, which, if implemented, will create an environment that will deliver quality accommodation while creating places where people will want to live. But there is no one solution. "Internal space standards do not of themselves guarantee quality, particularly for apartments. Design matters more than area size. A well designed boat can be far more liveable than a badly designed home, no matter what the size. Locations in city centres, urban villages, towns, residential clusters, and suburbs could each have different standards for external issues such as density, height, separation, open space and parking. Development Standards should allow flexibility for the re-use of existing buildings and should encourage the retro-fitting of existing suburbs and centres", concludes the RIAI President.
Much progress has been made in the advancement of baseline accommodation standards. In the application of our space standards we must ensure that any flexibility does not result in any diminution of quality particularly as they might apply to allow better use of existing buildings. This flexibility is a key element in creating sustainable communities. This would enable the delivery of appropriate homes for a changing demographic, acknowledging that one size does not fit all.
New housing types
The requirement for more homes requires new models to be developed and requires higher densities such as those that we see in the most desirable parts of our cities and towns. For example Glasnevin or Donnybrook in Dublin and the fine streets and historic residential areas of our smaller towns such as Westport, Birr and Clonakilty. The requirement for new homes must also be met within the wider objective of creating and renewing liveable, sustainable, neighbourhoods and communities.
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About the RIAI
The RIAI is the regulatory and support body for architects in Ireland. Since 1839, the RIAI has been committed to upholding the highest standards in architecture and providing impartial, authoritative advice and information on issues affecting architects and the built environment. Our main roles are promoting, supporting and regulating architects and protecting the consumer. Although the RIAI carries out a statutory function as the Registration Body and Competent Authority for Architects in Ireland, this is carried out on a self-funding basis. It does not receive any Government Funding or aid for this function.