Housing – A Timeless Challenge: Talking Housing Now

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?


Prof. Nasrin Seraji (UCD School of Architecture, Planning and Environmental Policy), Dr Ronan Lyons (TCD Economics and LSE), and Bulelani Mfaco (Movement of Asylum Seakers in Ireland). Chaired by Emma Geoghegan (Head of Architecture, TU Dublin).


Nasrin Seraji, AA DIPL FRIBA OONM OOAL. After studying at the Architectural Association and practising in London, Seraji moved to Paris in 1989 to establish her studio where architecture has been discussed, debated and practiced as a cultural debate and a social act. Since then, she has pursued a path constantly enriched by her simultaneous engagement in architectural practice, teaching, and research. She has lectured and exhibited her work widely in Europe and North America, as well as China and South East Asia. Seraji has taught at Columbia University in New York, the Architectural Association in London, Princeton University, the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna, Cornell University, École Nationale Supérieure d’Architecture Paris-Malaquais (where she was appointed Dean by Presidential decree), the University of Hong Kong, and Wenzhou-Kean University in China. She is currently professor of architectural design at University College Dublin.

Architect of the award-winning Temporary American Centre in Paris, Seraji has completed several notable buildings and projects, including apartment buildings in Vienna, student housing in Paris and an extension to the School of Architecture in Lille. The latter were both nominated for the EU Mies Award. Big heavy beautiful, a complex mixed use building for the Paris Transportation Authority comprised of 213 housing units, a crèche, a bus depot and an associative garden was inaugurated in 2017. Through her new speculative practice, New Agency for Speculations in Architecture Ltd, she reflects on new possible practices of architecture in a post-climate environment. Nasrine Seraji was conferred the “Lady Edith Kotewall” endowed Professorship in the built environment in August 2020 at The University Of Hong Kong. She was elected as a fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects in 2018. She has received several high distinctions for her services in education and in architectural practice from the French government.

Ronan Lyons is an Associate Professor in Economics at Trinity College Dublin, where he is also Director of Trinity Research in Social Sciences. His research focuses on housing markets, urban economics and economic history, and his doctorate at Oxford was on Ireland’s housing market boom and bust of the early 21st Century. His academic research has been published in leading peer-reviewed journals, such as the Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics, the Journal of Housing Economics, Energy Economics, and Regional Science and Urban Economics. He is a consultant to the IMF on residential property prices, a frequent contributor to national and international media on Irish housing and the broader economy, and the author of the quarterly Daft.ie Reports on the Irish housing market.

Bulelani Mfaco is a South African asylum seeker and activist in Ireland, campaigning for reform of the asylum process in Ireland. He has an honours degree in politics and public administration from the University of the Western Cape and a Masters in Politics from UCD. Having applied for asylum in Ireland following his Masters, Bulelani was placed in Direct Provision centres. Based on his experiences within this system, he joined the Movement of Asylum Seekers in Ireland (MASI) and now acts as their spokesperson. He has spoken out about the issues faced by members of the LGBT community within Direct Provision as well as the sub-standard living conditions in many centres across Ireland. Bulelani was appointed as MASI’s representative in the Expert Group established by former Ministers Charlie Flanagan and David Stanton to come up with a long-term approach to the provision of material supports, including accommodation, for asylum seekers, drawing from international best practice. Bulelani is currently undertaking a PhD in Law at TU Dublin.

Emma Geoghegan is Head of Architecture at the School of Architecture, Building and Environment in TU Dublin, where she has been teaching on the undergraduate, postgraduate and professional courses since 2008. From 2007-2017 Emma was a partner in MEME Architecture, working on projects in the UK and Ireland, including work for community organisations providing housing and care services for people with physical and intellectual disabilities. She is currently TU Dublin Project Lead for the Resilient Design Curricula project, a HEA-funded national project which brings together all schools of architecture in Ireland, to radically revise architectural education to meet the twin challenges of the climate and housing crises. Emma is a board member of Arts and Disability Ireland and VISUAL Carlow and has previously served on council and as a Vice President of the RIAI.


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