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RIAI and Galway City Council Launch Reimagining the Irish City and Town

Reimagining the Irish City and Town, a joint initiative of the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland (RIAI), the Academy of Urbanism and Galway City Council, took place in Galway. The conference was aimed at exploring innovative solutions for the challenges facing Irish cities and towns envisioning a more sustainable future. This event brought together architects, urban designers, planners, community leaders, policymakers, and other stakeholders to discuss innovative solutions.

The two-day conference ran from 26 – 27 April and reviewed the urban design principles articulated in the Freiburg Charter, which sets out a framework of a viable, sustainable urban planning policy, while considering how they can be updated for application in an Irish context, using the Irish Cities Galway 2070 Plan for context.

Freiburg, a city with more cyclists than drivers, is recognised as one of Europe’s most sustainable cities, and is continuing to challenge convention with creative initiatives in its approach to housing, planning, transport, and energy. Wulf Daseking, former Chief Planning Officer for the City of Freiburg, delivered an address at Reimagining the Irish City and Town on what can be learned from the city of Freiburg.

Through a variety of keynote speeches from national and international experts, workshops and guided tours of Galway, attendees were engaged in discussions and explored ways to address urban challenges while envisioning a more sustainable future for Irish cities.

Charlotte Sheridan, President of the RIAI, said ahead of the conference, “we are excited to be in Galway to launch Reimagining the Irish City and Town with the Academy of Urbanism and Galway City Council. This year’s conference provides us with the opportunity to explore innovative solutions for issues facing Ireland’s cities and towns. Architects play a critical role in developing the built environment and creating liveable, healthy, and sustainable communities. The RIAI is committed to encouraging sustainable and inclusive design practices and supporting the development of dynamic, healthy, and resilient communities.”

Brendan McGrath, Chief Executive of Galway City Council, said, “Galway City Council is delighted to co-host this innovative conference, which will consider approaches to how we plan our cities –across Ireland, where cities and towns face common challenges as we move towards more compact growth, active travel and climate action. Compact growth will be key to the continued success of our cities and towns in future and achieving this will require some new ways of thinking and working together. Galway City Council welcomes delegates and speakers to our city we look forward to your engagement and input on this important topic.”

Andreas Markides, Vice-Chair of Academy of Urbanism, said, “cities throughout the world are undergoing significant transformations. Each in its own special way (Utrecht places emphasis on people’s health, Tirana is striving to become a city for children, Mechelen is an inclusive city etc) is striving to create better places for its citizens and a more sustainable way of life.”

“The Academy of Urbanism is fortunate in having established dozens of friends amongst all these cities. This has enabled the accumulation of knowledge which the Academy is sharing with its members and friends. The Academy is very happy to join Galway City Council and the RIAI in co-hosting this major conference which has already attracted significant interest not only from across Ireland but from many European cities as well. It promises to be a hugely important occasion which should help to trigger a new way of designing and developing sustainable and thriving communities in Ireland.”

Source: Galway City Council

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