Housing – A Timeless Challenge: Talking Housing Histories

Housing provision is a conversation that has transcended time, generations, and governments. A series of 3 panel discussions will debate and examine housing through the lens of architectural history and social evolution from the 20th to the 21st century. What have we learned from the successes and failures of the past and how do we comprehend the challenge today?



Dr Brian Ward (TU Dublin School of Architecture), Dr Michelle Norris (UCD School of Social Policy) and Dr Ellen Rowley (UCD School of Architecture, Planning and Environmental Policy). Chaired by Dr Dáithí Downey (DCC Head of Housing Policy, Research and Development).


Dr Brian Ward is a Lecturer in the School of Architecture, Building and Environment at the Technological University Dublin. Trained as an architect, he worked for dePaor Architects and Dominic Stevens Architects. Interested in locating architectural design skills within their social and cultural contexts, he contributes regularly to publications on modern and contemporary Irish architecture and planning and co-edited Irish Housing Design 1950-1980: Out of the Ordinary (Routledge, 2020) with Gary A. Boyd and Michael Pike. He has also curated architectural exhibitions: in 2019 he co-curated with Sarah Sheridan an exhibition and series of events on Marion Mahony Griffin for the Irish Architecture Foundation, and in 2022 he co-curated with Gary A. Boyd The Architecture of Creative Learning for the Irish Pavilion in the Dubai Expo.


Dr Michelle Norris is Director of the Geary Institute for Public Policy and Professor of Social Policy at UCD. Her research focuses on housing policy and urban regeneration. She has led over 20 research projects on these issues since 2000 and produced over 170 publications on the results. Her latest book is Property, Family and the Irish Welfare State (Palgrave Macmillan, 2016). Michelle is on the advisory of three leading journals in housing studies and is co-convenor of the European Network for Housing Research Working Group on Comparative Housing Policy. Her policy work includes serving on the National Economic and Social Council; as chair of the Housing Finance Agency; on the interim board of the Land Development Agency; and as an expert advisor to the Housing 2030 project, which is funded by the UN’s Economic Commission for Europe, UN Habitat, Housing Europe, and the governments of 56 countries. It aims to improve the capacity of national and local governments to formulate policies that improve housing affordability and sustainability.


Dr Ellen Rowley is an architectural and cultural historian, who is a leading scholar of twentieth-century Irish architectural history. Her publications include the book Housing, Architecture and the Edge Condition: Dublin is building, 1935 – 1975 (Routledge, 2019) and co-editing Irish Architecture 1600–2000, Volume IV of Art and Architecture of Ireland (Yale, 2014). She is editor and principal author of the three-volume More Than Concrete Blocks: Dublin City’s Twentieth-Century Buildings and Their Stories. Ellen’s public engagement activities include being guest consultant editor of RTÉ Radio 1 lecture series on housing, ‘Making Home’ (2019/20); curator of Dublin’s tenement museum, 14 Henrietta Street, as it developed from 2016-2018; curator of Dublin Art + Architecture Book Fair 2018 (Temple Bar Gallery + Studios); and curator of Belfield 50 (UCD Comms) from 2019. She is an Honorary Member of the RIAI.


Dr Dáithí Downey is an urban geographer with over 25 years’ experience working as a practitioner and analyst in housing and homeless services, strategy, research and policy in Ireland and Britain. A Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and a member of the Chartered Institute of Housing, Dáithí has also served as a member of the Royal Irish Academy’s Social Science Committee. Dáithí works as Chief Officer for Dublin City Council’s Local and Community Development Committee (LCDC), where he also leads the Dublin Housing Observatory (DHO) as Principal Investigator. This includes development of the DHO housing data navigator, delivering geospatial analytics and visualisation for Dublin city’s Development Plan. DHO has produced research on urban vacancy, Dublin’s short-term rental market and the city’s Rapid Build housing programme. DHO also curates a knowledge exchange programme with the City of Vienna, including Dublin’s participation in Vienna’s International Building Exhibition IBA_Wien 2022.


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