Builders sought for ‘rapid delivery’ modular apartments

Portable apartments scheduled to be installed in Dublin city centre by March

Fishamble Street: Dublin City Council is seeking tenders from modular housing builders to provide and erect “portable” apartments a site there. Photograph: Eric Luke

The first prefabricated "rapid delivery" apartment scheme for homeless families is to be installed in Dublin city centre by next March.

Dublin City Council has this week sought tenders from modular housing builders to provide and erect "portable" apartments at a council-owned site on Fishamble Street close to Christ Church Cathedral.

The derelict site at 29 and 30 Fishamble Street, previously occupied by two 18th-century buildings, had been earmarked by the council for a pilot owner-designed and built apartment scheme, but after several years of preparation this plan was shelved in 2015, and the site has remained vacant.

Two years ago, the council completed its first rapid-delivery modular housing estate in Ballymun to house homeless families living in hotels, and has since completed similar schemes at sites in Finglas, Drimnagh and Darndale.


However, the Fishamble Street development will be the first apartment block using modular housing technology, where the units are prefabricated off-site and then assembled on the ground over a short period of time.

The council first announced plans to install factory-built apartments at Fishamble Street in November 2016 after visiting a "stackable" apartment scheme built by Lewisham Borough Council in south London.

London example

The four-storey apartment blocks on Lewisham High Street were built in 12 weeks at a cost of about £150,000 (€168,000) per apartment. The borough council plans to leave them in place for three years, after which they will be “unstacked” and moved to another location.

The apartments have a 60-year lifespan and are designed to be relocated up to five times.

The Fishamble apartment block has been designed for the council by Walsh Associates architects as a small-scale development of a five-storey apartment block with one one-bedroom apartment on the ground floor, and four two-bedroom apartments.

As with the Lewisham development, the apartment block is to be “portable” and have a 60-year life span. The successful bidder will be expected to start construction on site by the end of November 2018, with a completion date of mid-March next year.

Original plan

The council had originally hoped to have the apartments in place last year, but delays in the development of the modular housing sites resulted in a postponement of plans for the apartment project.

In 2013, the council had designated the Fishamble Street site for a “citizen developers” project. This was to involve owner-occupiers designing and building their own apartments on the site which the council would provide at a cost of €150,000.

Several groups applied to develop the site, which the council estimated would cost about €1.2 million, including the purchase price.

A successful bidder was chosen but, in late 2015, the group withdrew its expression of interest and the council shelved the project.

The council will shortly seek tenders for a second rapid-delivery apartment scheme at Bunratty Road in Coolock. This much larger project will see the construction of 64 apartments in four, four-storey blocks, along with 14 modular houses. Unlike Fishamble street, this estate will be used to accommodate people on the council’s general housing waiting list.

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly is Dublin Editor of The Irish Times