An independent not-for-profit action research think tank, enabling Community-Led Housing in Ireland
We believe that communities of all sizes should have the right, and the ability, to be instigators and co-creators of secure, affordable homes, and that this can benefit individuals, communities and even entire cities. We want people in Ireland to realise this potential.
SOA stands for Self-Organised Architecture. Established in 2018, SOA is an independent not-for-profit collaborative formed to promote the possibilities for participatory, non-speculative, affordable and democratic housing creation in Ireland.
Our focus is on quality and social cohesion in the built environment, and we work with groups around the country who are taking a community-led approach to create homes. We also work with government agencies and local authorities to develop CLH policy and advance pilot projects.
COFOUNDER + DIRECTOR
Tom is a founding director at SOA. He studied architecture at UCD and Cambridge University and has extensive experience in architectural practice in the public and private sectors. In 2020-21 he co-authored Roadmapping a Viable Community-Led Housing Sector for Ireland. He is based in Ireland and Germany.
COFOUNDER + DIRECTOR
Padraig is a founding director at SOA. He studied architecture at UCD and currently works in part-time practice with LiD Architecture. As chairperson and secretary of SOA, he has co-coordinated the direction of the company since its foundation. In 2020-21 he co-authored Roadmapping a Viable Community-Led Housing Sector for Ireland.
COFOUNDER + DIRECTOR
Colin is a founding director at SOA. He studied architecture at UCD and holds a Conservation Grade III Accreditation. Colin has co-designed and led a range of SOA initiatives, most recently co-directing SOA’s contribution to the EU Interreg Sustainable Housing for Inclusive and Cohesive Cities north-west European partnership.
Isoilde is a retired architect and former RIAI Fellow and Chair of the RIAI’s Universal Design Task Force. Retired as Senior Architectural Adviser at the Housing Agency in 2020, she joined the SOA board as an interim director in early 2021, and was appointed as Non-Executive director in early 2022.
COFOUNDER + MEMBER
Mark is an urban designer with an economics background who works in masterplanning and mobility. He received his architectural education in Ireland and Denmark and now works in London for an engineering consultancy. He is passionate about creating safer, greener and more attractive neighbourhoods for people to live and play in.
The approaches advocated by SOA are based on a number of principles:
On Community and Design:
1. That the benefits of community for quality of life, wellbeing and the urban environment are clear;
2. That community self-organisation for the provision of housing is beneficial both to the members of the community (be it new or established) and to the quality of the homes;
3. That co-design by residents of homes is a good way to improve design quality and diversity, and to strengthen community. Furthermore, that co-design is an established design method with a good track record, but requires a new set of skills for many designers;
4. That the extension of community into the sharing of spaces and resources can reduce costs and allow for more efficient, sustainable and fulfilling living environments;
5. That such living environments should exist in order to increase diversity and choice in the provision of homes;
6. That self-organisation for the provision of housing should become an established part of the housing sector, supported by government policy, commercial lenders, and other actors in the construction industry;
7. That self-organisation and community empowerment in housing can be part of a wider cooperative economy (or consciousness?) which can help to address broader issues such as the climate emergency;
On Affordability and Ownership:
8. That the pooling of resources for the collective financing of homes can unlock opportunities not available to the individual;
9. That it is beneficial for homes (or at least a good proportion of homes) be immune from commodification and speculation;
10. That the above can be achieved through a number of existing mechanisms which are established in other countries and can be shown to be successful;
11. That Community Land Trusts are a suitable way to achieve long-terms affordability and community investment in homes in Ireland. That CLTs have been shown to work well in other countries, including in the UK, and that they represent a relatively understandable and transparent method to achieve security, affordability and a range of other benefits for cities and communities.