• 16 Dec 2019

RIAI launches Town and Village Toolkit to support the revitalisation of Irish towns as great places to live and work

Supported by the Department of Culture Heritage & the Gaeltacht

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 Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland (RIAI) 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.

The launch of the RIAI Town and Village Toolkit by Niall O’Donnchú, Assistant Secretary in the Department of Culture, Heritage & the Gaeltacht took place at the Dublin Civic Trust on 6 December 2019 as part of a conference on the ‘Identification and Reuse of Traditional 17th and 18th century Urban Buildings’. 

Speaking at the launch, Niall Ó’Donnchú said: The quality of our built environment affects the quality of our everyday lives. It is vital that we make informed choices on how we use our existing places and spaces, our built heritage, landscapes and natural resources. I welcome the RIAI Town and Village Toolkit and also the forthcoming RIAI publication: Old House – New Home (January 2020). These are timely documents that encapsulate high quality design of differing scales and outcomes. They were compiled by RIAI in collaboration with Registered Architects and with the support of the Department and the Creative Ireland Programme.”  He concluded: “Cities and their qualities in terms of the urban environment have become a key element in competitive advantage and in driving economic investment and progress – in this regard a sense of place and distinctive character has become a key elements of this economic proposition.”

Kathryn Meghen, RIAI CEO, said: “We are delighted to see the launch of the RIAI Town and Village Toolkit. The Architect’s ability to unlock value and opportunity in our towns is essential for the process of reimagining and revitalisation. We are actually still below the EU average for the percentage of population living in urban settings. When considering the Toolkit, we encourage towns and communities to engage professionals with urban design expertise, such as Registered Architects, early-on in the process to ensure that they can benefit from their design expertise in unlocking value.”

The toolkit is based on an extensive body of research and work developed by the RIAI and its Urban Design Committee, with funding from the Department under the Government Policy on Architecture. Public awareness of the toolkit is critical to its success and the RIAI encourages all those involved in Irish towns - from local authorities to community groups - to use the RIAI Town and Village Toolkit and provide feedback. The RIAI is also delighted that the toolkit is to be piloted with the support of the Department of Health under the Healthy Cities and Counties programme.

Architect Philip Jackson, Chair of the RIAI’s Urban Design Committee and co-author of the Town and Village Toolkit, presented the RIAI initiative Town and Village Toolkit at the launch. The Toolkit is organised around 6 chapters/themes: 

  1. Health Wellbeing and Happiness 
  2. Connectivity, Accessibility and Movement 
  3. Variety and Viability 
  4. Environmental Sustainability 
  5. Urban Form and Character and 
  6. Vision and Governance

Another forthcoming free RIAI online publication: Old House – New Home will be rolled out in early 2020. The publication, in conjunction with the Department and Creative Ireland, comes with a wealth of case studies of successful re-imagining of historic homes.

For further information and images of the publications, please contact:
Dr. Sandra O’Connell, RIAI Director of Architecture and Communications T 01 6691474. 

About the RIAI 
The RIAI is the registration body for architects in Ireland that work to drive excellence in built environment for the benefit of everyone in society. The ambitious Town and Village Toolkit along with initiatives by the Department are involving more people in the recognition and preservation of early urban buildings in our historic cities and towns; and creating innovative schemes for contemporary living. Follow us on Twitter @RIAIonline and Instagram riaionline.