Living, In-between

My thesis investigates an alternative to the profit-driven development that currently shapes the housing market in Dublin City. I am proposing a new housing typology and development model to provide a collective and affordable way of living. The site chosen for this investigation currently sits vacant in the North Inner City.

The scheme consists of 16 dwellings over four floors with shared functions and a communal garden at street level. The dwellings vary in size from 69 m2 to 155 m2 in order to invite a mixture of household sizes and profiles. The dwellings are generous in size allowing the typology to sit somewhere in-between high-density city apartments and suburban housing.

The plan opposite shows two apartments and an external circulation core. Different coloured ceramic floor tiles spill out from each apartment into the shared circulation space creating different levels of threshold and ownership.

In both shared and private areas the design proposes generosity of space, encouraging freedom of use. The design aims to give people as much from the architecture as possible before they can appropriate it themselves.

The shared external circulation functions as a social meeting space for residents and allows for a gradual transition from city to dwelling. The design invites residents to take ownership of this space, occupy it and use it as an extension of the individual dwellings. The collage model below explores this concept.

Contemporary Commons

In suburbia, the morphology of the housing estate monopolises programme.

The sub-division of land, the layout of streets and the essential relationship of public and private worlds is determined by the dimensional repetition of the semi-d. In between are interspersed the basic infrastructures for survival – the petrol station, the newsagent, the amorphous green space. Such rare interruptions in function are equally a break in the dominant spatial order of the three-bedroom plot. These gaps in the dominant residential programme present an opportunity.


Distanced from the centres and avoiding the pressures of commerce, the former use value of the old city has emigrated with the citizenry to the suburbs. Despite this there remains a missing component to suburban life – the civic space. In the oversized or oddly shaped green spaces are the greatest opportunities for the civic in urban life. Free of fences, closing hours, by-laws or even function these afterthoughts may be the contemporary commons.


For a successful civic space to take root in suburbia, one cannot resort to the simple insertion of urban or rural typologies. Within the confines of the suburban daily routine there is space for an architecture. The answer lies within the rhythms of commuting, school terms and the occasional birthday party. Equally, it is essential to acknowledge the unique size and shape of the green patch in juxtaposition to the constraints of the housing plot. This break from residential form and function allows for a public scale of intervention. In other words , the possibility to give inhabitants the spaces for living that their private homes could never fulfil. Within these limits there is an opportunity, not to force a change in people’s lives but to make sublime how we already live.