Co-designing ‘future-oriented’ neighbourhoods to enhance the possibilities for positive ageing in Ireland
“While I still have my brain about me I want to be contributing to the world that I live in. To be able to do that you need to be able to love the place where you live. We need to know that there’s a process, that there’s a place where we can feel that we can give our best. We’re all going to get old. That’s something for all of us to think about, even when we’re 30.”
Annie Curbelo Lang, Irish Times
Reimagining Elderhood explores the future housing needs of people in mid-life in Ireland, and the role of community-led initiative and architecture in providing innovative responses to this opportunity and challenge.
The project sets out to explore the following questions:
- What kind of places do we need to live well as we age, and how might 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?
- How can architects be ‘agents of change’ and facilitators of new approaches and thinking about how we live?
Following an Open Call launched in 2022, three successful Irish-based architects were selected to engage with their local communities to investigate these questions. The goal was to stimulate ideas and collectively imagine the ideal environment for positive and empowered ageing.
Read on to learn about the three Reimagining Elderhood projects, the architects and communities behind them, and the work which emerged from the process!
Reimagining Elderhood is led by SOA Research CLG and funded by The Arts Council.
With residents of the housing estates of Balbriggan, Co. Dublin
In Balbriggan, Co. Dublin, Laura Carroll and Ciarán Molumby of Islander Architects have been working with residents in the suburban housing estates. They chose to engage with two groups in particular – the local Mens Shed and Transition Year students from Loreto Secondary School – to collaborate on developing a vision for a shared space.
Laura and Ciarán both grew up in housing estates and are fascinated with the successes and pitfalls of housing developments, their territory, privacy, personalisation, play and communality. Islander’s process includes creating games to help communities find connections between users, needs & opportunities in an informal setting.
STUDIO IDIR ARCHITECTS
With residents of the Ballyhackamore neighbourhood, East Belfast
Studio Idir is a Belfast-based practice specialising in housing and community-focused engagement. ‘Idir’, the Irish word for ‘between’, reflects a philosophy of collaboration. It celebrates the meeting of difference – such as contrasting materialities, old and new, inside and out, and negotiating the unique values and ideas that each individual brings to the table.
With the local community in Ballyhackamore, Aisling Rusk and Aisling Madden of Studio Idir are exploring how the area’s amenities could be harnessed to improve it’s potential to empower Elderhood within a multi-generational neighbourhood, including the potential for adaptation of existing housing stock to better enable older people.
AILBHE CUNNINGHAM ARCHITECT
With a community of musicians in Coal Quay, Cork City
From a base at the recently opened Plugd Records on Cornmarket St. in Cork City, Ailbhe Cunningham is working with the local independent music community to Re-imagine Elderhood via a mixture of walking tours, musical performance and co-design workshops. Cornmarket Street is one of the few surviving networks of independent businesses and homes on the central island of Cork City.
Ailbhe is is a Cork-based architect, interested in the complex dynamics shaping our environments. A co-creator of TEST SITE project, she is deeply committed to nature and community engagement, recognising the necessity of collaboration to envision resilient, future urban landscapes.