Working with your Town and Neighbourhood

Towns, and urban neighbourhoods can be great places to live, work and enjoy leisure activities. To support those involved in Irish towns and neighbourhoods, we have put together this page with information and free online resources.  Registered Architects are trained to unlock value and opportunity in our towns and neighbourhoods and to develop ideas for their reimagining and revitalisation. Their training and experience enables them to look at a town or neighbourhood holistically, engage with the community, develop innovative solutions and co-ordinate a wide range of professionals involved in urban regeneration.

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 Special Awards - Tidy Towns Awards

The RIAI is delighted to partner with the Tidy Towns Awards by providing a number of Special Awards to support towns. These awards have been developed with support from the RIAI Urban Design Committee.






Caption: Proposal for Dungloe Town by Pasparakis Friel Architects

In 2021 there will be three special RIAI Awards:

1. The RIAI Town Challenge Award

The RIAI is providing the services of a Registered 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 your town or village has difficulties, for example with derelict sites, signage, lack of public space, traffic or parking issues, this RIAI Award will give you the opportunity to work with a Registered Architect to develop an urban design solution that can solve a problem and enhance your town or village. Registered Architects are trained to develop and deliver solutions for our built environment.

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.

The awards will be announced by the Tidy Towns Committee later this year. For more details please visit  or or sign up for the RIAI Newsletter to be notified when the awards go live.

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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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.

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

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

An RIAI Design Review introduces architectural expertise and innovation from the start of an urban regeneration project. Responding to a comprehensive briefing from the client, community and stakeholders, a Design Review panel of Registered Architects is formed to create individual high-level visions and proposals for the 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.

Free Online Resources

Putting Town Centres First
NIAH Publications of architectural highlights -
NIAH Fantastic Irish Fanlights Armchair Tour - facebook/
The Lawrence Collection c. 1900 – Historic Photographs -
Before & After Visualisations for historic streetscapes -

Publications on Towns
Patrick & Maura Shaffrey, Buildings of Irish Towns – Treasures of Everyday Architecture, Dublin: O’Brien Press. 
Sean Rothery, The Shops of Ireland, London: Quarto Publishing Group UK, 2009. 
John Hegarty, Shopfronts of County Cork - A Design Guide for the Historic Setting, Cork County Council, 2017. 

Repairs & Conservation

Historic Environment Scotland
Short Guide: Scottish Traditional Shopfronts -
Scotland's Historic Shops -

Protected Structures
Gareth O'Callaghan, Denny Street Tralee, Advice for Building Owners, Kerry County Council 
Kerry Building Buildings Guidelines No.4, Lime Plaster & Stucco Work, Kerry County Council 
Guidelines for the Management and Development of Architectural Conservation Areas, Cork County Council Heritage Unit
NIAH, Maintenance A Guide to the Care of Older Buildings, 2007

Traditional Skills & Practical
Workshop Case Studies of Shopfront Repair and Window Conservation -
Thomas Read and Company, Building of the Month – March 2018
Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Creative Ireland and the RIAI, Old House New Home – What the Buildings Told Us
The Restoration of 18 Ormond Quay, a Street Fronted Building

Contact Information
Contact Architectural Conservation Officers

Contact us

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