Previous architecture policies have helped to raise awareness, increase the body of knowledge and financially support good projects. Now the social and environmental challenges are more acute and European and international commitments more pressing. How will the built environment in carbon-neutral Ireland look, feel and work in 2050?

Open House provides an opportunity to highlight some of these European and international developments, so turn to our third article for an introduction.

Common purpose is essential to address climate adaptation and mitigation, urban regeneration for liveable cities, access to heritage, keeping our intangible ‘sense of place’, building the knowledge base and ensuring built environment workforce skills keep pace.  These ideals are encapsulated in the concept of ‘Baukultur’, a German concept, literally, ‘building culture’. The benefits of a high quality built environment for everyone are the drivers to develop policy on architecture.

Can we excel at place-making in Ireland: yes of course! A few essentials must be present, such as a well-informed client, clarity of purpose, scope and roles, and good communication and implementation strategies as well as project and procurement management skills. It means giving architects a leading voice in delivering a vision, an agreed intent to make environmental, social and economic quality a priority. It means being mindful of future as well as current user and regulatory requirements. It means thinking of buildings as ongoing material, economic and social resources, a loose fit capable of many future iterations.

Some examples show how projects can be transformative at the scale of the town or urban area, such as

Kilmainham courthouse and urban realm works, Dublin; Clonakilty urban design masterplan; Grangegorman campus development, Dublin; Viking Triangle, Waterford; the Mediaeval Mile Kilkenny and the Tait Clothing Factory regeneration project in Limerick (illustrated in clockwise order)

The innovation, energy and commitment displayed in the best architectural projects are also a hallmark of involvement and interaction in developing high quality architecture festivals and exhibitions, such as
– Open House (Dublin, Cork and Limerick); Waterford Festival of Architecture; Architecture Kerry (illustrated); Architecture at the Edge; Green Door; the IAF’s Reimagine scheme (illustrated); Grafton Architects curating Freespace at the Venice Biennale and the Freemarket Irish tour (illustrated)

Do these examples inspire you to tell us about your local, regional or site-specific initiatives: research or awareness, buildings or public space projects? Perhaps others could learn from your experience: what made this initiative or project work? What advice would you give to others embarking on a similar endeavour?

Your thoughts, links and photographs are most welcome: please contact us at as we are looking for exemplars to illustrate the new National Policy on Architecture.

Nessa Roche & Nicki Matthews
Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage
Contact us at

There are two other articles in this series – What is the National Policy on Architecture, and What can we learn about architectural policy from elsewhere?