Open Call to take part in a Participatory Design challenge

A paid opportunity for three architects (emerging or established) to develop their co-design and participatory community engagement skills while creatively exploring one of Ireland’s greatest spatial challenges: how to design ‘future-oriented’ neighbourhoods that foster community for all ages and maximise the possibilities for positive ageing in Ireland.

Application Deadline: 5pm on Wednesday 20 April 2022


Reimagining Elderhood is a multi-strand collaborative research project which SOA Research CLG are coordinating throughout 2022/23. The project explores the future housing needs of people in mid-life in Ireland, and the role of Community-Led Housing approaches in providing innovative responses to this challenge. 

As a primary element of the project, SOA are launching an Open Call offering a paid opportunity for three architects (emerging or established) to develop their co-design and participatory community engagement skills. The Call is open to architects [individuals or collectives] based in Ireland.

Reimagining Elderhood will engage each of three selected architects/collectives in exploring the following core questions:

  • What kind of places do we need to live well as we age, and how can aspects of our neighbourhoods be modified to support ageing well?
  • Can we take steps in mid-life to imagine the places we would like to live in as we age, and to work together to create them?
  • What is the potential of collaborative housing and neighbourhood design to improve the experience of ageing in Ireland?
  • How can architects be ‘agents of change’ and facilitators of new approaches and thinking about how we live?

They will explore these questions in the context of working with a specific community (of place or interest) of their choice, with a view to evolving their process of community engagement and co-design. The only criteria for choice of community is that they include people in mid-life who are thinking about their future housing needs. The architects will facilitate these communities in exploring their neighbourhood design, and inventively imagining their future.

The selected architects will have the opportunity to develop their method of practice, and to test the boundaries of an architect’s ‘agency’ by employing their skills to address a pressing societal challenge. They will design and lead the engagement process with their chosen community, supported by expert mentorship.

The architects will be expected to produce a defined creative/co-design output that is meaningful and useful to the communities involved, and in a format suitable for showcasing as part of a local and national dissemination programme. The three architects will participate in planning how their collective work will be shared publicly in early 2023.

SOA envisage that the opportunity will be a hybrid of online and in-person engagement. We will review and amend the projects in line with relevant Covid restrictions prioritising the health and safety of everyone involved.

Who can apply?

Emerging and established architects (collective and individual) based in Ireland (all island, Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland) are invited to apply. The opportunity is ideal for those who wish to further develop their co-design and participatory public engagement skills and experience. Interpretation of the word ‘emerging’ is open to applicants. It could mean that you have recently graduated, or that your practice has been established recently.

You may also be a more established architect who would like to gain new skills in participatory public engagement and co-design.

Collectives applying may be previously established or newly formed for this commission. If you apply as a pair or a collective, the support and fee will be shared between you.

What support will be offered?

Each of the three selected architects/collectives will be supported by a mentor who is an architect and expert in participative design, with a view to developing the participants’ co-design and public engagement approach. Mentors have been chosen based on their extensive experience in the field of participative design, and include:

Additional mentorship and support will be provided at key stages by:

SOA will also provide administrative support and will arrange public dissemination of the creative output in early 2023.

When and Where

Reimagining Elderhood takes place from May to December 2022 in Ireland. The final dissemination of project output will take place in early 2023.

Specific project timelines will be devised by each selected architect, who will work over a series of engagements with a group that they have identified. SOA and the mentors will assist in this process.

SOA will be accepting applications from any location across the country [ie. all-island, Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland]. The opportunity is anticipated to involve time spent on remote work, direct community engagement, mentorship, and dissemination preparation throughout the programme of the project. The architects/collectives will be responsible for scheduling their own time.

The Reimagining Elderhood opportunity includes:

  • Hands-on co-design/participatory public engagement opportunity, led by the selected architects
  • Architect fee of €7,000.00 per project (inclusive of VAT)
    (to be divided between participants if applying as a pair or collective)
  • Travel stipend of €200.00 per project
  • A series of mentorship engagements with architects who have specific expertise in the practice of participative and collaborative housing design
  • Additional limited budget for exhibition materials
  • Access to expertise and mentorship of Self Organised Architecture
  • Opportunity to share work as part of the final project dissemination

How to apply

The deadline for applications is Wednesday 20 April 2022 at 5pm. To apply, submit the following to marked ‘Reimagining Elderhood Proposal’ :

  • Outline description of your proposal (no more than 1200 words), to include:
    • A brief outline of how you imagine you might approach this project.
    • A community (of place or interest) you would like to engage with during this project, and whether you already have contact with that group. (This could be a group that lives in or would like to live in a particular place, that has a background or interest that unites them, that is multigenerational and/or already beginning to engage in the area of future planning. Whether or not you have a contact with a particular group, SOA will work with you to identify and engage with a group that will fit your proposed project.)
    • A brief description of how your proposal will be feasible with respect to the available budget and timeline.
  • Project portfolio containing at least 3 examples of previous work
  • CV or biography
  • Letter of motivation (no more than 500 words), describing why you are interested in taking part in this project.

SOA is committed to making our application process accessible to everyone. If you need to submit your application in an alternative format (for example by video or audio recording) please let us know in advance and we will work with you to find a suitable solution.

Applications will be assessed by SOA Research and the mentors, based on factors including the track record of applicants, the feasibility of the proposal within the timeframe, and the anticipated richness of the proposed group engagement. All applicants will be notified of the outcome by 9th May 2022. We thank you in advance for putting your time and creativity into your application.

If you have any questions you can consult our our FAQs page or email us directly at

Reimagining Elderhood is led by SOA Research CLG and funded by The Arts Council.


SOA held an online Q+A session on the evening of Wednesday 23rd March in order to clarify any queries in relation to the Open Call and selection process.

Responses to particularly relevant questions have been added to our FAQs page. We will continue to update this page, as questions come in, until April 13th.