Sunday 28 December 2014

If it's good enough for New York and Paris, it should be for us

Comment: Paul Melia

Published 21/07/2014 | 02:30

THIS is the future of housing in our major towns and cities – or at least, it should be.

Using small sites to deliver family-sized homes should be the option of choice when the Government unveils plans for a house-building programme.

Like most good ideas, it's simple in its execution. Not only do you utilise land otherwise lying idle, you bring families back into the heart of the city.

This in turn will drive the development of community facilities such as schools and parks, which can only improve life for everyone.

It's only in Ireland that we sneer at families living in apartments. What's good enough for the citizens of New York, London, Rome, Paris and countless other capitals isn't good enough for us, it appears.

There's valid reasons for this, particularly the failure to build decent apartments with facilities during the Celtic Tiger boom when the pursuit of profit overtook the delivery of sustainable communities.

But that doesn't mean we cannot change our mindset. Why should we accept allowing cities to sprawl because the "market" is demanding family-sized homes with gardens. They don't need to be houses. With a little foresight and good design, there's no reason why apartment living cannot become the housing of choice.

A mix of tenure is ideal, with the wealthy and not-so-wealthy living side-by-side – a model practised across Scandinavia.

With families comes demands for schools and facilities, which will breathe new life into our city and show there's a better way of doing things.

Irish architects win awards and design competitions all over the world. There are countless graduates with experience just itching to bring their ideas to a stagnant market where costs won over investment in design.

It's hoped there's a deluge of applicants hoping to win the right to develop this site. If it works, there's no reason why it cannot be extended elsewhere.

Irish Independent

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