Four country towns win ‘Town Centre Living’ awards for their architectural plans

Winners announced in a joint Department of Housing RIAI competition to design urban, social homes

Plans for the redevelopment of an old fire station in Castleblaney, Co Monaghan, and three other vacant spaces in Counties Kildare, Tipperary and Sligo have been named as winners in a competition run jointly by the Department of Housing and the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland (RIAI).

The challenge to architects launched last January comprised four separate competitions to design “Town Centre Living” developments – at urban sites in Castleblaney, Kildare, Roscrea and Sligo.

The aim of the competition was to bring forward innovative designs for social housing in line with the Government’s Town Centre First policy objectives of compact growth and town-centre revitalisation.

The winning projects together propose up to 89 new social homes.


The winners were:

  • A proposal from Boyd Cody Architects with James Flaus and Kevin Quinlan to redevelop the town’s listed, old fire station. The judges said they were impressed by the “very good consideration to the protected structure on site – both to contribute to open space and in terms of integrating it into their proposal”. The scheme addresses climate change challenges by retaining part of the old fire station and incorporating it into a new building as well as the reuse of materials from demolished buildings to clad parts of the proposed.
  • A proposal from Shay Cleary Architects to build a social housing scheme in Kildare town which the judges said would be “an exemplar project for ‘Town Centre First’ living”. The judges said the “triangular arrangement of the scheme is appropriate in morphology and scale to Kildare town, creating a housing scheme of notable character”.
  • A proposal from JFOC Architects to develop “a project that feels as if it has always been a part of Roscrea, while creating a series of new interlinked small scale public spaces grafted on to the existing flow of the town”. The judges said “this proposal unanimously impressed the jury at urban, building and detail scales and in making a place that is delightful for people, both the future residents of the housing and the broader town community”.
  • A proposal from TAKA Architects for housing at Housing at Pirn Mill Road, Sligo. The judges said they were “unanimous in their award to this submission which displayed an understanding of site, context and brief, a clear site strategy with a hierarchy of considered open spaces, supported by an innovative typology of building form and volumes”.

It is intended that the winning architectural practice for each competition will be awarded the design commission for the project and that the winning proposals will be progressed by the various local authorities as live projects funded by the Department of Housing.

Tim O'Brien

Tim O'Brien

Tim O'Brien is an Irish Times journalist