Start Spreading The Mews

New housing supply in parts of Ireland is restricted by historic development of low-density suburbs. These suburbs are in desirable areas close to urban centres, places of employment and recreation.

Increasing housing supply in these areas would facilitate those who are currently forced to live in peripheral areas with long commutes, and often with social deprivation and environmental degradation. Dwelling plots in these older suburbs are often far in excess of modern regulatory size requirements. The suburbs were frequently built with laneways providing access to the rear of the dwellings, which are now largely obsolete.

Our proposal is to unlock the potential of these areas to provide extra housing by identifying and analysing suburban laneways in order to establish design guidelines which would streamline the process of construction of new residential units, accessed from these lanes. By exempting mews houses (constructed in strict compliance with national design guidance) from requiring planning permission, the proposal envisages a large supply of homes becoming available in established areas. In turn this allows for increased density, limits urban sprawl, and facilitates rapid construction of additional housing.

The regulations will be framed to avoid issues relating to overshadowing, overlooking and loss of amenity for neighbouring residents. The scale of our proposed mews house typology, generally six metres wide and two storeys tall, is accessible to all construction companies and can be built using easily sourced materials with a low carbon footprint, making it a cost effective and sustainable way of addressing the housing crisis.


Our proposal analyses 64km of laneways within the M50 of Dublin, which would yield between 15,000 and 20,000 units, housing up to 50,000 people. Similar laneway environments exist in many towns and cities across Ireland, potentially increasing housing supply nationwide.

Project Team

Stephen Foley, Sara Acebes (SFA42 Architects)
Stephen Wall (Researcher and PhD student)


David Gaffney Rocha (Student at University of Brighton)
Jordi Acacio (Student at Universidad Politécnica de Madrid)




Espacio Ucrania, Madrid

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