The Dublin School of Architecture engages with community based learning and research and through this builds links with communities. Our students engage with real-life projects and develop their skills through interaction with local community groups, voluntary organisations and other not-for-profit bodies.

Projects have included a cross-disciplinary focus with students from Architecture, Architectural Technology and Structural Engineering working together to conceive, design, engineer and detail. The range of projects have varied from small scale Montessori schools to studies for inner city large scale housing.

These real-life scenarios instil a professional ethos in the students and allow their ideas to be broadcast to a wider audience. The students’ work forms part of a wider dialogue of how architecture can shape society.



CHS 2021 Booklet

The essence of this TU832 Bachelor of Architecture elective module is to expose students to the complexity of housing provision and to some of the multifarious issues involved. It is premised on the fact that housing provision is incredibly complex, involves many agencies and forces and that design, as in the bit that architects do, is only a very small part of making for successful, sustainable housing projects. It focuses on housing as an integrated permanent system rather than as simply a designed physical end product and thus is concerned about design in a broad holistic sense.

Lectures and seminars, including from guest experts, focused on affordability, community engagement, cohousing and community land trusts in attempts to generate awareness beyond mere physical design. An important part of this awareness generation is to offer the students a chance for community engagement, something they may not have hitherto experienced in their architectural education.

The elective group engaged again this year with the St. Michael’s Estate Regeneration Team (SMERT) who have campaigned for almost two decades for the sustainable regeneration of their long since empty site in Inchicore, Dublin 8. This engagement was seriously curtailed due to the Covid lockdown so all meetings were online. As the regeneration, now known as Emmet Road Regeneration, is in the early consultative stage the students were able to attend an online Dublin City Council (DCC) webinar with several hundred attendees and hear some of the different actors – DCC officials, planners, Bucholz McEvoy architects etc. – outline their ambitions and proposals. Multiple breakout rooms allowed for relaxed Q&A to occur.

Since the scheme is to be Ireland’s first large (approx. 430 dwellings) affordable public cost rental scheme, with blind tenure applied for the first time ever, this will be a test case for future developments. A transparent public consultation is key to its success and it was fruitful for the students to engage albeit in a small part of this. Hopefully such engagement by the students can continue beyond this elective.

After the DCC webinar the elective group held two online workshops with the SMERT which involved discussions around their ambitions and concerns and also housing and estate design issues that the students raised. These ranged from the treatment of secure public space to the ground plane treatment at entrances to the possibilities for dwellers participation in growing and selling food and the feasibility of rooftop usage. Students later developed these ideas which are shown here in this booklet. Despite the limited nature of the online engagement it was fruitful for both students and the SMERT.

Luckily, due to the lifting of the Covid lockdown restrictions, we were able to round off the elective with a socially distanced corporeal morning tour of the Emmet Road site, Richmond Barracks Museum and recent housing schemes with Rita, Eilish and Carol from the SMERT.

No big problems have been solved on this elective, but many questions have been raised for and by the students and the St. Michael’s Estate Regeneration Team about the complex economic, political, social and community processes involved with the provision of affordable, sustainable housing. As always further engagement and study is necessary

Multi unit residiential retrofit proposals for Iveagh Trust Buildings by TU413 Postgraduate Diploma in Building Performance (Energy Efficiency in Desgn) students. 

Point Cloud Flythrough of Iveagh Trust Nellies Flat, created by TU Dublin Geographic Science students 2019 as part of a collaborative project with TU Dublin Architectural Technology students.


This elective community engagement module is premised on the basis of students learning about housing by engaging with an active community group. This year ten 4th year architecture students and their tutor teamed up with the St. Michael’s Estate Regeneration Team (SMERT) which consists of a group of community activists engaged in various forms of social activism work and who are all dedicated in particular to the sustainable regeneration of the St. Michael’s Estate in Inchicore, South West of central Dublin.

Cooperative Housing Systems 2020

The original Dublin City Council (DCC) estate, consisting of 8-storey stand-alone concrete apartment blocks was built in 1969-70 using the same system developed for the earlier Ballymun flats. It was decided to demolish the estate in 1998. Relocation of tenants and various consultations for a new development ensued, the first phase of which was completed and the first of the old blocks demolished in 2004. Since then various plans have been produced by DCC but no further building has occurred and a large green space sits where once hundreds of families lived.

The organisation of the elective is run on fairly open and inclusive lines with decisions being made collectively by the tutor and students. Weekly seminars and meetings were held on various issues related to the design of community housing and on community engagement including a review of cohousing projects from abroad. Following a comprehensive full morning guided tour of the site and the current community facilities with Community Worker Rita Fagan we had many discussions on what type of project we could do that might best inform the community activists about housing design issues and that could also help them develop their own engagement with the latest DCC framework plan. The students were very keen to engage fully with the community group and to learn from them, as well as sharing some ideas on housing design with them. A series of interactive workshops with the community group began to be envisaged, possibly interrogating the latest DCC Framework Development Plan and the issues that concerned the community.

The Covid 19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown unfortunately stymied any possibility of physical engagement so a quick rethink occurred. We all communicated ideas through a shared One Drive document that allowed each of us to suggest proposals for engaging with the SMERT. Two online workshops were quickly agreed with those SMERT members who could attend.

The first online workshop involved members of the SMERT explaining the recent history of the site, the students asking a series of questions around their concerns and attitudes to redevelopment and then all involved engaged in a communal SWOT analysis of the most recent DCC Framework Plan. The second online workshop involved the students firstly showing exemplar community housing projects from abroad that they had researched and secondly sharing their exploration of their ideas on the DCC Framework Development Plan. most of which linked back to issues that had been aired by the community group in the first workshop.

Much interesting and engaged discussion around a myriad of housing issues ensued between the community group and the students during the second online workshop. Despite the frustration and the many hic-cups of the constrained digital engagement both the student and the community group declared great satisfaction with the result. The students finally produced a booklet of all their work which has been made available to the community group.

Cooperative Housing Systems 2020

The setting for the last days and hours of the 1916 Easter Rising, a recognized battlefield site and location of statutorily protected National Monuments, Moore Street is an historically significant site in Dublin. Coupled with this it has a rich and important social history, with a Street Market tradition that has been in place since the 18th century. For the last few decades the street and broader area in North Dublin city centre/O’Connell Street have suffered from underdevelopment due to changing economic and political contexts, complicated property ownership issues and the inherent challenge of dealing with a site with its rich and complex history. It is inevitable that consensus on the future of the area would be hard won.

Moore Street Students and Traders

The future of the area is interlinked with the future of a large city development area on O’Connell Street. This land has changed hands a number of times and development proposals have been subject to a number of legal challenges due to the potential impact on Moore Street itself.  The Moore Street Advisory Group (MSAG) is a government appointed group, representing all the stakeholders in the area from public bodies, property owners, street traders and relatives of the men and women of the 1916 Rising. The remit of the group is to reach a shared vision for Moore Street, a ‘Framework of consensus secured on alternative development arrangements for Moore Street and its lanes’ (Securing History report 2017).

Over the academic session 2018/19  DSA fourth year students were invited by the MSAG to work alongside the group on a number of research and design projects. These projects sought to develop ideas for the future of the National Monuments and the Moore Street Market. The project findings were presented to the members of the MSAG at a symposium in May 2019. 

  • Moore Street National Monuments DSA project 2019
  • Moore Street Market & Public Realm DSA Student Report
  • ‌Moore Than a Stall

Moore Street Trader Stall Protoype
The TU Dublin School of Architecture wish to thank the Moore Street Advisory Group, the Moore Street Traders, the Office of Public Works (OPW) and the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht  for their support in this project.