Working with your Town and Neighbourhood

Towns, villages, and neighbourhoods can be great places to live, work and enjoy a healthy lifestyle. To support those involved in the regeneration or creation of such places, we have put together this page with information and free online resources.

Architects are trained to consider design holistically. An architect with urban design skills is involved in analysing places and identifying opportunities. This process leads to strategies that reimagine and revitalise places, based on their individual qualities, to create a people-centred environment.

Architects can engage with the community, develop innovative solutions and co-ordinate a wide range of specialists involved in urban regeneration. An important part of the role of the architect is to listen and to develop a shared vision.

The RIAI has developed a number of resources with the support of our RIAI Urban Design Committee, such as our Town and Village Toolkit and Special Awards in the Tidy Towns Awards.

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 overcome challenges with architectural urban design expertise.  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 Special Awards - Tidy Towns Awards

The RIAI is delighted to partner with the TidyTowns Competition 2021 by providing 3 Special Awards to support TidyTowns committees. These awards have been developed with support from the RIAI Urban Design Committee.

 

 

 

 

 

Caption: Proposal for Dungloe Town by Pasparakis Friel Architects, the 2019 Winner of an RIAI Special TidyTowns Award 

 

In 2021 there are three special RIAI Awards:

1. The RIAI Town Challenge Award

The RIAI provides the services of an Architect to work with a local Tidy Town Committee to create a visionary urban design solution to a problem in your town. The award consists of an architectural commission. If a town or village has difficulties, for example with derelict sites, signage, poor quality public space, traffic or parking issues, this RIAI Award gives the opportunity to work with an Architect with urban design skills to develop a design solution that can enhance the quality of space in a town or village.

The RIAI is delighted to partner with the TidyTowns Competition 2021 by providing 3 Special Awards to support TidyTowns committees. These awards have been developed with support from the RIAI Urban Design Committee.  Further information is also available in the TidyTowns Handbook.

Previous winners and projects are:

  • Enniscorthy Tidy Towns Committee in partnership with Seán Fogarty MRIAI
  • Dungloe Tidy Towns Committee in partnership with Pasparakis Friel Architects

2. The RIAI Shopfront Award

The RIAI Shopfront Award is a Special Award, designed to raise awareness and promote good shopfronts in Irish towns and villages. The RIAI Shopfront Collaboration Award aims to support a Tidy Towns Committee who wish to provide guidelines for the design of shopfronts in an historic context with the help of a Registered Architect.

 

3. The RIAI Good Windows Award

The RIAI Good Windows Award is a Special Award to promote appropriate windows in Irish towns and villages. The streets of Irish towns and villages are composed of both historic and modern buildings. Well-kept historic windows and well-designed modern windows are equally valid.

Revitalising Ireland’s Town and the Role of Architects

The environmental TV series Eco Eye focused on the challenges facing Ireland’s towns and villages in an episode broadcast on 2 February. “Revitalising Towns and Villages” features Tipperary and Clonakilty towns, including an interview with Architect Giulia Vallone MRIAI of Cork County Council (which starts at ca 17min). Giulia explains the design processes that have created a pedestrian-focused town centre.

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Creating a Vision for a Town or Neighbourhood - RIAI Design Reviews

To support towns and urban neighbourhoods undergoing urban regeneration, the RIAI has developed a Design Review process.

An RIAI Design Review enables communities to benefit from architectural expertise and innovation from the start of a project. Responding to a comprehensive briefing from the community, client and stakeholders, a Design Review panel of Registered Architects creates individual high-level visions and proposals for the project site.

The primary benefits of this process are that it is independent and non-directional and the resultant vision and development ambitions for the project are open and far-reaching.

Past RIAI Design Reviews include:

If you are interested in carrying out a RIAI Design Review or would like to find out more, please contact Dr. Sandra O’Connell, RIAI Director of Architecture and Communications.

Online Resources

The Town and Village Toolkit has a wealth of resources and information: https://www.riai.ie/uploads/files/general-files/RIAI_TownandVillageToolkit.pdf
Town and Village Renewal Scheme: https://www.gov.ie/en/policy-information/01125e-town-and-village-renewal-scheme/
A Framework for Town Centre Renewal, Published April 2017: https://dbei.gov.ie/en/Publications/Publication-files/A-Framework-for-Town-Centre-Renewal.pdf
Scotland's Towns Partnership: https://www.scotlandstowns.org/
Putting Town Centres First: https://www.heritagecouncil.ie/projects/podcast-series-putting-town-centres-first
Community-led Village Design Statements: https://www.heritagecouncil.ie/projects/community-led-village-design-statements
IAF: https://reimagineplace.ie/
Free Market: http://www.freemarket.ie/

Conservation

Guidelines for the Management and Development of Architectural Conservation Areas, Cork County Council Heritage Unit
Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Creative Ireland and the RIAI, Old House New Home – What the Buildings Told Us
 

Further reading

Patrick & Maura Shaffrey, Buildings of Irish Towns – Treasures of Everyday Architecture, Dublin: O’Brien Press
Shopfronts Sean Rothery, The Shops of Ireland, London: Quarto Publishing Group UK, 2009
Town: Origins, Morphology & Future' by Orla Murphy (2012)

Contact us

If you would like to find out more about ‘Working with an Architect’ in your town or neighbourhood, contact the RIAI.