This architect-led workshop (12-2pm) will explore accessibility and inclusion around housing for people of all ages and physical abilities. It will be followed at 2pm by a tour of the Housing Unlocked exhibition for workshop participants.


Isoilde Dillon (Housing Unlocked Advisor, RIAI Universal Design Taskforce); Nicola Ryan (Studio Red Architects); Michelle Thunder (CEO, Saint John of God Housing Association); Shelley Gaynor (Peer Mentor, Independent Living Movement Ireland); and Annamie Pretorius (Architect, Fingal County Council).


Isoilde Dillon is a retired architect and former chair of the RIAI’s Universal Design Taskforce. She has a post graduate diploma in design research for disability and over 40 years experience working as an architect in Ireland and the UK, in both the public and private sectors. Isoilde has produced a number of guidance documents on housing design and on designing for disabled people.

Nicola Ryan is a Grade 2 Conservation Architect and co-director of Studio Red Architects. She has a special interest in inclusive housing solutions – including development of existing buildings, infill plots and backland sites in established communities. Nicola is mum to 3 young children, 2 beautiful dogs and a very handsome cat. She recently completed a co-housing build with her business partner, Gráinne Dunne, to provide 3 family homes on a backland site in the village of Chapelizod, Dublin. Her family’s home, designed around the specific needs of her son with autism, epilepsy, and mobility issues, was highly commended in the RIAI Awards 2022 under the Universal Design category. Nicola will discuss her own family housing solution, along with other recent case studies.

Michelle Thunder is CEO of Saint John of God Housing Association, which provides housing for people with intellectual disabilities, mental health issues and people who are ageing. She was formerly a service director in Saint John of God disability support services. Michelle has extensive business experience and has worked in Ireland and abroad in a range of companies from large multi-nationals and to a start-up ICT company. She has also lectured at third level in business and communications studies. She has a BComm, MBS from UCD and recently completed a post-grad in Leadership in NGOs in NCI. Michelle is committed to individualised, suitable housing for people with intellectual disability, to meet their own particular needs. She advocates for their right to a home under the UNCRPWD.

Shelly Gaynor has been a disability activist for over 20 years and has lived independently for the last 13 with support from personal assistants in the Fingal area. She is working as a peer mentor in Independent Living Movement Ireland. During the last 20+ years Shelly has been involved in a number of high profile campaigns concerning disability rights, such as when in 2012 she stayed and slept outside the Dáil for up to 72 hours in order to stop the government of the day from cutting personal assistant hours by 50%, and succeeded. Shelly is interested in assistive technology and how it can transform the lives of disabled people.

Annamie Pretorius MRIAI is a South African born architect, living and working in Ireland since 2002. She has over 25 years of experience as an architect, including 20 years in the Irish public sector at Fingal County Council, working on social housing, public buildings and conservation projects, with a specific interest in Universal and Age Friendly Design.

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