Eco:Cube – A Modular Living Concept

We need to rethink how housing is designed and developed in response to today’s challenges. Eco:Cube is a modular living concept developed by O’Mahony Pike Architects which provides an alternative housing model to address issues of density, supply, housing quality, low carbon transitioning and future proofing. The concept is based on a simple matrix and fixed grid that utilises a singular, repetitive 3D volumetric module to generate a variety of 1,2-,3- and 4-bedroom homes through a process of stacking and rotation. The interlocking volumes create a solid and void interlace providing in between pockets of outdoor rooms in the form of courtyards and upper roof gardens. The system can produce at scale and to more sustainable densities. For example, 87 identical factory built timber modules can generate a courtyard block at a density of 50 dwellings per hectare while a typical back-to-back model can achieve in excess of 70 dwellings per hectare.

Home4Community

Our proposal 'Home4Community' is quiet yet innovative, radical yet ordinary. The Housing Crisis will not be solved by one new magical idea, it will be solved by a careful assemblage of the things we know already: The means to solve the housing crisis already exists. Homes for people in our society are created through a complex mesh of operations and agencies – The ‘Housing System’. As architects we have existing working relationships with home-owners, developers, building contractors, timber frame manufacturers, housing associations and co-operatives. With these stakeholders we have analysed each part of this system, re-used the functioning pieces, discarded many of the less than useful orthodoxies, added a piece of innovative design in the form of the 'Home4Community' and arrived at a straightforward method to deliver varied, wonderful, and affordable homes in well-designed neighbourhoods.

Thirty-Three Churches

What do we do with all the empty churches in Dublin? Vast spaces sited in the city centre, often sitting idle between masses. We are not the only people asking this question. The project is prompted from the Archdiocese of Dublin’s submission on the draft Dublin City Development Plan, in which thirty-three churches were identified as having the potential to deliver housing through proposed rezoning. We have taken one church outlined in this report, St. Mary's Church of Angels, Capuchin Friary, Church Street, as a case study to showcase how an existing church envelope could be altered and adapted without changing its use as a place of worship to also provide much needed housing. An almshouse on Church Street.

The Working-Home

THE WORKING-HOME is a proposal that explores how vacant and derelict commercial properties in towns and cities can be repurposed for residential accommodation while still maintaining a commercial presence on the street by the inclusion of a ‘work unit’ associated with the house. Post pandemic, the trend toward hybrid-working, work from home, and the increasing shift to digital retail will increase the pressure on commercial streets, and most likely lead to higher vacancy rates as businesses deal with reduced pedestrian footfall. The Working-Home proposal aims to provide a flexible and scalable solution by creating a ‘work unit’ that frees up underused ground floor commercial space for residential accommodation and allows for larger two-storey residential properties that provide several benefits compared to above-the-shop living. In doing so, it aims to provide a solution to the vacancy, urban density, and ultimately the housing supply problems.

Model Housing – Urban Horticulture

This proposal will study a defined inner city neighbourhood with a view to demonstrating how new opportunities may be found for (re-)inhabitation and enriched living environments within the grain of Irish towns and cities. The neighbourhood of the Liberties situated on the fringes of the historic core of Dublin has been selected for its varied pattern of settlement and ever evolving use and demographics, the consequent layering of infrastructure and variety of living environments and housing/building types within a relatively low-rise but densely occupied urban context; a range of conditions and opportunities that may be seen as typical of Irish urban situations of different scales. Through an examination of historic occupancies and a close reading of existing city fabric we will reveal a range of typical and particular conditions that are currently untapped, and develop proposals to expand existing living and working infrastructures and thereby contribute to the long-term resilience of communities; a means or tool kit for gardening our inherited plots and building stock in a process of pruning, grafting, and companion planting; a kind of urban horticulture.

START SPREADING THE MEWS

New housing supply is restricted in parts of Ireland by historic development of low-density suburbs. Dwelling plots in older suburbs are often far in excess of modern size requirements. Many of these suburbs contain laneways providing access to the rear of the dwelling plots. Our proposal is to unlock the potential of these sites to provide extra housing by exempting mews houses constructed in strict compliance with national design guidance, from planning permission. This will allow a large supply of homes to become available in established areas, increasing density, limiting urban sprawl, and providing rapidly constructed homes close to centres of employment and amenity. Standard construction details aligned with the building regulations will result in consistent quality of dwelling. The regulations will be crafted to avoid issues relating to overshadowing, overlooking, and loss of amenity for neighbouring residents. The guidelines will mandate car-free dwellings, to optimise efficient use of limited space, and to encourage active and smart low-carbon travel options.

Join the dots – 100 small ideas for sustainable change

Vacancy and dereliction blight the centres of our towns and villages. Why? Because nobody is thinking about them with imagination as the brilliant spaces they could be... Post-pandemic, people can now work remotely - housing themselves in towns and bringing life back to these amazing instant environments, invigorating existing communities and bringing fresh thinking to our squares and spaces to create a new/old - and better - way of living. We propose to take disused frameworks of habitation and infrastructure, and re-imagine them in innovative ways to help solve our housing shortage by using what we have and making it brilliant for now and the future. We would also be making the best cultural / community spaces for the future at the centre of our towns because those spaces would be inhabited by people – the wall of faces in a theatre - towns are our theatre of the everyday.

Building Societies

In March 2021, Bank of Ireland announced the closure of 103 regional branches, fundamentally altering the physical, social and economic landscape of Irish towns. As these unique bank buildings were parcelled up for sale, we started to consider their legacy and latent potential. Our idea reacts to the supply crisis within the housing market and reimagines the value and currency of these bank buildings as urban vessels within which housing opportunities can be explored. Firstly, for homes ‘above the bank’ and secondly, through opening up the generous banking hall as a covered freespace that unlocks backland housing sites and space for wild nature, play and urban growing. We propose to recast the built artefacts of the infamous Irish banking system to deliver sustainable, beautiful homes and communal spaces that augment the urban morphology and ritual of everyday life in Irish towns. In this way, perhaps we can begin Building Societies.