‘Stackable’ modular apartments to be built for homeless families

Dublin City Council to place prefabricated units on Fishamble Street and in Coolock

A vacant site in Dublin city centre, which was to be an owner-designed apartment block, is to be used for the city’s first modular apartment development for homeless families.

Dublin City Council has chosen two sites – one on Fishamble Street, close to Christ Church Cathedral on the south side of the city, and another in Coolock – for the “volumetric build” project, which will involve stacking factory-built housing units to form apartment blocks.

The council earlier this year completed 22 “rapid build” two-storey houses in Ballymun to house homeless families living in hotels and has recently started work on 130 more houses at sites in Finglas, Drimnagh, Darndale and Cherry Orchard.

Next month, it will seek tenders for more rapid build houses at three sites in the city.

Two of these will be in Finglas, at Woodbank Drive – where four houses will be built – and at Rathvilly Park, which will have 13. In addition, tenders will be sought for 53 houses at HSE lands in Ballyfermot.


Separately, the council will advertise for architectural services for the two modular apartment schemes.

The larger of the two developments will be in Coolock – at a site between Bunratty Road and Oscar Traynor Road – and it will have 62 apartments.

The Fishamble Street site is a significantly smaller “infill” site, between two existing apartment blocks, and will be used for a block of six stackable apartments.

Three years ago, the council-owned site at 29 and 30 Fishamble Street was designated 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 successfull bidder was chosen but, in late 2015, the group withdrew their expression of interest and the council shelved the project.

The plot at the site of two 18th-century properties, just a few doors from what is believed to be the city’s oldest house, is expected to be developed next year for modular apartments.

South London model

The council has studied a model used by Lewisham Borough Council in South London which earlier this year completed a modular apartment complex – providing 24 homes for families living in emergency accommodation.

The four-storey apartment blocks on Lewisham High Street were built in 12 weeks at a cost of about £150,000 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.

Almost €175 million, more than 20 per cent of the city council’s capital budget for the next three years, has been earmarked for building modular housing for homeless families living in hotels.

The funding will be front loaded with almost €350 million to be spent in 2017.

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly is Dublin Editor of The Irish Times