Research and Policy

The RIAI engages with government, the professions, industry, clients and the public to promote quality in architecture; to deliver quality and sustainability in the built environment; to enrich our distinctive culture and heritage; to contribute to the competitiveness of our economy; and to improve quality of life for the people of Ireland, today and for generations to come. 

The RIAI is committed in carrying out research on a wide range of topical issues relating to the built environment that affect Irish society. We do this through our member committees and by engaging with experts. This work, in turn, delivers new insights and policy for the benefit of everyone in society. Providing public benefit from our members’ expertise and knowledge is a key RIAI Strategic Objective.

Climate Change 

RIAI 2030 Climate Challenge

The RIAI is delighted to launch our 2030 Climate Challenge. We are in the midst of a climate emergency which is the biggest challenge to face our planet, our people and our industry.

We need urgent action and leadership by architects and the wider construction industry. As professionals we have solutions, and we want to play our part in addressing this emergency and to collectively rise to this challenge.

The task is urgent and we need to work immediately to reduce our carbon emissions in order to limit the devastating impacts of global warming.

We are encouraging architects and our colleagues in construction to take the RIAI Climate Challenge, to evaluate the way they currently design and to make the necessary changes needed to meet the reductions and targets outlined in this document.

The Climate Challenge document was originally developed by the RIBA. With kind permission, this Climate Challenge document was adapted for Ireland by the RIAI.

RIAI Guide: Sustainable Design Pathways

The RIAI Guide: Sustainable Design Pathways is intended to educate and inform architects and other construction professionals, including surveyors, planners and engineers, on the key areas that must be addressed in built environment design and development to combat climate crisis.

Additionally, the document details actions that will help achieve emissions reduction targets outlined in the recent Climate Action and Low Carbon Development (Amendment) Bill, published by the Irish Government. (April 2021)

Reading the RIAI Guide: Sustainable Design Pathways entitles you to 0.5 Unstructured CPD points.  

RIAI Policy - Sustainability for the Current Global Environmental Crisis 

This policy is set in the context of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which includes 17 Sustainable Development Goals adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015. Architecture interacts with each of the 17 goals, through realised buildings, settlements and cities all over the world. The RIAI has made commitments to place the UN Sustainable Development goals at the core of architectural practice and sets out clear and measurable objectives for both the RIAI and practicing Architects to become industry leaders in developing a sustainable future for all. (September 2019)



The RIAI has launched a new Housing Statement in support of Housing for All – A New Housing Plan for Ireland. The report focuses on innovative architectural solutions to address the housing challenge and calls for “an Architect for every municipality who will be tasked with developing a vision statement for our villages, towns and cities to ensure we are planning our future with quality in mind.”  (March 2022)

RIAI Policy – Designing Homes for an Ageing Population 

The RIAI has published a new research report with recommendations on designing homes for Ireland’s ageing population, which the Institute says will ease pressure on the housing sector in general. This research is intended to support Government in its efforts on facilitating older people staying in their home or community as long as possible. Our research has found that new ways of designing purpose-built apartments and houses are essential to keep older people in the community. (October 2018)

RIAI Research Report on Housing Delivery

Government policy has used planning and taxation policy to encourage the faster delivery of new multi-unit residential developments. Notwithstanding these efforts, the process of bringing a new housing scheme to occupation remains very slow. The RIAI Research Report on Housing Delivery hopes to stimulate a wider debate in Irish housing policy in respect of the role of the planning system in the delivery of housing. The report makes recommendations for policy-makers about reforms of policy, planning processes and procedures. (September 2017) 


New European Bauhaus

A New European Bauhaus Conversation with Yvonne Farrell, Shelley McNamara and Orla Murphy

The RIAI and the Department of Housing Local Government and Heritage (DHLGH) held a ‘New European Bauhaus Conversation’ on 29 March with Yvonne Farrell, Shelley McNamara and Orla Murphy and members of the RIAI’s committees and task forces. The report, which is introduced by Minister Malcolm Noonan, RIAI President Ciaran O’Connor and CEO Kathryn Meghen, highlights areas where the New European Bauhaus could set positive impulses in Ireland. Many of the issues raised are linked with the themes of the forthcoming National Policy on Architecture.

Both the New European Bauhaus and the National Policy on Architecture could bring about welcomed policy, structural and cultural changes to create a society where high-quality architecture is valued for what it brings to the environment and society, as well as what it delivers for those who commission it. Quality architecture makes can also make an important contribution to Climate Change Action, as the most sustainable design is the one that endures and can be easily adapted for future generations. (24 May 2021)

National Development Plan

Designing a Lasting Localised Recovery: Plan Better, Design Better, Build Better

The RIAI’s Policy Submission to Review to Renew - the Public Consultation of the Review of the National Development Plan.

In this policy document, the RIAI asks that public investment must meet three challenges in the coming decades:

  1. it must meet UN and EU Green Deal carbon reduction targets;
  2. planning and development frameworks must account for demographic and related changes with regard to household size, housing mix, education, healthcare and others;
  3. it must be sustained at higher levels to correct for past underinvestment.

The policy is set out under immediate priorities, medium targets and long-term targets.

Urban Design

RIAI Town and Village Toolkit

Towns and villages across Ireland have been integral to Irish economic and cultural life for centuries. They can also be great places to live and work for modern lifestyles. To support those involved in Irish towns and villages, the RIAI – with support from the Government Policy on Architecture – has launched a free online resource.

The RIAI Town and Village Toolkit provides practical advice, references and successful case studies of places that have with architectural and urban design expertise positively overcome challenges. Case studies include Clonakilty, Cloughjordan, Westport, Tuppercurry and Waterford’s Viking Triangle.




10 Top Tips for Designing Outdoor Living Spaces

The RIAI and the RIAI Urban Design Committee have recently partnered with Chambers Ireland on this timely guide, which provides 10 Top Tips for Designing Outdoor Living Spaces ahead of the re-opening. This guide offers useful tips on how to make the most of the outdoor space available to businesses and the wider community for the coming months as we embrace outdoor spaces.



RIAI Research – Achieving Quality through Smart Procurement

The RIAI believes that the current procurement policy does not embed design innovation and impact quality of outcomes which can lead to higher whole-life costs. The procurement process focuses frequently on minimising the cost of design and construction, rather than achieving value for money. It is a responsibility of Government to put measures in place to ensure that quality of design and procurement for value are at the heart of public procurement policy. The RIAI published report on public procurement includes a number of recommendations to improve the process. (April 2019)

Building Conservation

The RIAI Guidelines for the Conservation of Buildings 

These Guidelines represent the latest revision of the Guidelines, first published as RIAI Practice Note 1995/01, and revised in 2001 and 2010. Prepared by the RIAI Historic Buildings Committee to support the implementation of the RIAI's Conservation Policy, and directed primarily at RIAl members, and not intended to provide comprehensive information on building conservation practice. The principles outlined in these Guidelines may be applied to the conservation of all significant historic fabric, including that of the 20th and 21st centuries.

RIAI Conservation Guidelines: Building Regulations Issues 

This Appendix to the Guidelines offers an approach to Building Regulations and Sustainability for historic structures. Conservation projects vary in complexity and often require specialist expertise, and is based on the working experience of Conservation Architects which offers an initial approach to the areas covered by each Regulation and the TGD (Technical Guidance Documents) that offer means of compliance with each. It is intended to supplement the current edition of the RIAI Guidelines for the Conservation of Buildings. The view of regulatory authorities may differ in some cases from the practical solutions offered here. The practitioner must rely on their own informed judgement in each case. 

RIAI Conservation Policy

The RIAI regards the sustainable conservation of architectural heritage integral to the skill set of the architect. The purpose of the Conservation Policy of the RIAI is to set the highest standard for the conservation of our built inheritance and to make conservation an integral part of the practice of architecture.


Building / Construction

The Consumer Guide Cost Guidelines published by the RIAI advise on the construction costs for domestic and commercial works. The information contained within the Consumer Guide Cost Guidelines is set out to provide clients and consumers with a guidance on building costs using the average figures noted but, again, it must be borne in mind the high level of cost inflation within the industry due to market conditions. (Updated August 2019)


RIAI Policy – Architects Delivering Quality and Innovation in Ireland’s Infrastructure

For the Government’s review of the Capital Plan “Building on Recovery: Infrastructure and Capital Investment 2016 - 2021”, the RIAI has made recommendations, with a specific focus on having a National Infrastructure Delivering Agency. An agency would play an important role in the review of procurement processes with the goal of ensuring that those processes deliver our ambitions while ensuring that appropriate levels of investment are committed to key infrastructure projects.


Universal Design

RIAI Statement of Policy on Accessibility, Inclusion and Universal Design

The RIAI has launched a new policy on Accessibility, Inclusion and Universal Design responding to the significant changes in the context in which the RIAI and its members operate, since the adoption of the RIAI Policy on Accessibility in 2006. The Universal Design Task Force (UDTF) has reviewed the 2006 Policy document and concluded that its scope needs to be broadened to meet the changed circumstances and the challenges for the next 10 years. (February 2018)