A new model of housing density could more than double the number of “own door” dwellings on a site, the group representing Irish architects has told Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien.
The Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland (RIAI) said on Wednesday that it had written to Mr O’Brien calling for “low-rise medium-density housing” along the lines of models employed in Sweden, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, Germany, Australia and New Zealand.
The RIAI said this model allows for densities of between 35 and 80 dwellings per hectare, while in Ireland it is “extremely difficult to achieve housing density above 30 units per hectare”.
The RIAI say that several changes are required by ministerial directive on private open space, car parking and separation distances between homes in order to allow greater densities.
The group said that such a directive to develop housing along these lines could “unlock the potential to deliver twice as many homes on the same locations”. It said it would allow for densities in residential areas such as those found in Phibsborough, Portobello and Ranelagh in Dublin and Turners Cross in Cork, all of which were developed before the current guidelines were introduced
It wants low-rise medium-density housing introduced as a distinct category, which they say will enable architects to produce a “new generation of high quality sustainable residential communities for the 21st century”.
It argues the current market centres on high-rise, high-cost build-to-rent schemes, which results in low-density enclaves of houses and high-density enclaves of apartments “as opposed to sustainable integrated neighbourhoods and communities”.
Charlotte Sheridan, the president of the RIAI, said that “throughout Europe, there are many examples of exceptional high quality low-Rise medium density housing developments but virtually none here in Ireland. That can be changed by ministerial directive and in doing so we can unlock the potential to deliver twice as many homes on the same locations.”
She argued a ministerial directive allowing development along these lines would “significantly increase output, raise standards and improve the choice of housing and quality of the public realm in residential neighbourhoods”.
“Despite the progress which is being made on housing supply, we believe the Government should be open to new thinking and new initiatives which will help address the current chronic housing shortage,” she said.