Five rural towns were selected for development funding totalling €50,000 under the Irish Architecture Foundation’s Reimagine Hometown Architect initiative for regeneration projects.
The funded projects are a masterplan solution for a cluster of vacant buildings in Tipperary town; a visionary blueprint for Lisdoonvarna, Co Clare that’s rooted in the spa town’s heritage of wellbeing, by Pritzker Prize-winning architect and Lisdoonvarna native Shelley McNamara of Grafton Architects, together with the skill-sharing not-for-profit Common Knowledge, co-founded by Harrison Gardner; a pathway for making ‘The Granite City’ of Aughrim, Co Wicklow more accessible for all ages and abilities; a whole-community vision for the sustainable development of the historic planned market town of Belmullet, Co Mayo; and a one-stop shop for bringing the community of Tuam, Co Galway together to address the issue of vacancy within the town.
The five projects were selected by a panel of experts following an open call that invited community groups and an architect who has a connection to their town or village to partner on and submit a regeneration project proposal that aligns with the Government of Ireland’s Town Centre First Policy. The Town Centre First Policy aims to promote the regeneration of town and village centres across Ireland and to create town centres that function as viable, vibrant and attractive locations for people to live, work and visit. Each of the Hometown Architect projects will receive €10,000 in development funding, as well as practical support under the IAF Reimagine placemaking programme.
Announcing the Hometown Architect funded projects, Nathalie Weadick, incumbent director of the Irish Architecture Foundation, said, “the team and I are very excited to reveal the five selected projects from around the country. Each of these projects balances big vision, local insight and practical nous. We look forward to seeing how they tangibly revitalise the built environment and enhance accessibility and inclusivity for these communities over the course of the year and further into the future. We are delighted to have the support of Government, whose Town Centre First Policy for improving, energising and transforming rural towns to make them better places to live, work and enjoy is at the heart of our Hometown Architect programme.”
Also commenting, Minister Heather Humphreys TD, Minister for Rural and Community Development, said, “my Department of Rural and Community Development shares responsibility for the national Town Centre First Policy. A key aim of this policy is to enable local communities and local businesses to be key drivers of development as well as central to the reimagining and planning of their towns for the future.”
“The IAF’s Reimagine programme, with its focus on placemaking, further enhances the Town Centre First approach and the work of local groups towards making our towns attractive places to live, work and visit. The applicants to Hometown Architect presented a wide variety of quality projects aimed at affecting change on a local level. The selected projects will set the scene for others attempting similar focus on vacancy and dereliction in our rural towns and bringing new life and focus back to our town centres.”
Hometown Architect is a new initiative of the Irish Architecture Foundation’s nationwide Reimagine placemaking programme. Reimagine supports communities across Ireland to partner with architects to co-create and co-design solutions to problems or opportunities they have identified in their locality.
Hometown Architect is funded by the Arts Council and the Department of Rural and Community Development, with additional support to the Irish Architecture Foundation from the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage.
For more information about the IAF Reimagine Hometown Architect initiative, see www.reimagineplace.ie/open-call.