“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

The Film

The Architects

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.

Find out more about Islander’s process here >


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.

Find out more about Studio Idir’s process here >


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.

Find out more about Ailbhe’s process here >


Shane Serrano

Shane Serrano is an award winning Director & Cinematographer from Limerick City, Ireland. Through his production company, Crude Media, Shane has been directing and producing short films, documentaries and commercial work for over 10 years, working on over 130 music videos for Irish and International artists.

Many of his films have been selected by acclaimed film festivals globally, including the Newport Beach Film Festival, Irish Film London, Galway Film Fleadh, Virgin Media Dublin International Film Festival, Berlin International Art Film Festival and Chicago Irish Film Festival. In 2019 he was the recipient of the Special Recognition Award for Outstanding Contribution to Film in Limerick, at the Richard Harris International Film Festival.

Ballyhackamore, Belfast

Coal Quay, Cork City

Reimagining Elderhood Exhibition - 9-15th October, No.2 Curved Street, Temple Bar >

The Reimagining Elderhood exhibition is currently on display in the former Filmbase building in Temple Bar, as part of Open House Dublin 2023. Talks and workshops related to the project will take place all week from 9-15th October.