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REGENERATION GAME: Community groups in Ireland team up with local architects to co-develop regeneration projects

REDEVELOPING a vacant town centre site in Bailieborough, Co Cavan, to create a new street that would link the Main Street and a major local supermarket; reconnecting the town of Mountrath, Co Laois with the Whitehorse River as a link to its rich history of linen and cotton weaving; and improving workability, vitality and the sense of belonging in the heritage town of Moville, Co Donegal.

These are the three new projects selected for development funding under the Irish Architecture Foundation’s (IAF’s) Reimagine Hometown Architect initiative.

Hometown Architect is a key initiative of the IAF’s Reimagine placemaking programme. It supports collaborative projects between local architects and community stakeholders to explore possibilities to regenerate their town centres.

The successful projects met the Hometown Architect brief by focusing on issues of particular concern, opportunities or innovations for town centre regeneration in line with the Government of Ireland’s Town Centre First Policy. This policy aims to make town centres across Ireland viable, vibrant and attractive locations for people to live, work and visit.

Announcing the new Hometown Architect projects, director of the Irish Architecture Foundation, Emmett Scanlon, said: “The team and I are very excited to reveal this year’s selected Hometown Architect projects. The three selected projects prove the innovative architectural imagination and strong local ambition that exists right across Ireland for communities to work together to harness the potential of their towns.

Hometown Architect is one of several Irish Architecture Foundation programmes that seeks to build local capacity in towns, empowering communities and supporting architects to imagine and drive change. We in the IAF welcome the continued support of Government, whose Town Centre First Policy for improving, energising and transforming towns to make them better places to live, work and enjoy is at the heart of our Hometown Architect programme.”

Also commenting, Heather Humphreys, T.D., 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.

“With its clear focus on placemaking, the IAF’s Reimagine programme further enhances the Town Centre First approach and the work of local communities towards making our towns attractive places to live, work, visit and invest in. This second call has once again showcased 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 reimagining their towns as vibrant hubs of activity, addressing vacancy and dereliction, and bringing new life and focus back to our town centres.”

NEW PROJECTS: Pictured: Front left:  Emmett Scanlon, director of the Irish Architecture Foundation (IAF)  Front right: Andrew Forde Head of Rural Regeneration Unit from the Department of Rural and Community Development.
Back from left: Mary Kerrigan, Moville team, Annie O’Toole, Frank Cooney and Patricia McCaffrey (all) Bailieborough team. Anthony Doogan, Moville team, Joseph Mackey, Mountrath team,Denise Rainey, Mountrath team and Caroline Brady, Bailiebourough team

THE NEW HOMETOWN ARCHITECT PROJECTS: 

This is the second round of Hometown Architect, whose focus is supporting small and medium towns outside of major urban centres. Three projects have been selected for development funding of €10,000 each plus mentoring and practical support from the IAF’s experienced placemaking team. The three projects are:

Reimagine Bailieborough

The Bailieborough, Co Cavan project will deliver a design proposal for a vacant town centre site, identified in the Bailieborough Town Centre First Plan. The site is a premises on Main Street with a back-lands area that is derelict. The proposal is for a new street linking Main Street to an existing car park and supermarket store. This intervention would demonstrate sustainable reuse and conservation, and enhance connectivity and mobility.

Reimagine Mountrath

Mountrath, Co Laois has a rich history dating back to the 17th century, and its location on the Whitehorse River allowed the town to become an industrial hub with extensive linen and cotton weaving traditions. This project seeks to creatively explore, with the local community, how the town can reconnect socially, culturally and artistically with the Whitehorse River.

Reimagine Moville

The Moville, Co Donegal project aims to reimagine the town, first designed 250 years ago, and create the heritage of the future whilst respecting and complementing its built and natural environment. The project will facilitate a series of inclusive conversations for change that will culminate in a community- sourced vision. The project aims to address current challenges, including public transport and digital infrastructure disconnectivity and a lack of viable meeting spaces, especially for young people. Seeing Moville through new eyes, the project team is intent on supporting and strengthening sustainable spaces, full of light and life, where everyone belongs.

Hometown Architect is part of the Irish Architecture Foundation’s Reimagine placemaking programme and is funded by the Arts Council and the Department of Rural and Community Development, with additional support to the IAF from the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage.

For more information, visit the official website at: https://reimagineplace.ie/fieldwork/hometown-architect/

REIMAGINE PLACEMAKING PROJECT: Andrew Forde, Head of Rural Regeneration Unit from the Department of Rural and Community, Mary Kerrigan and Anthony Doogan, Moville team and director of the Irish Architecture Foundation (IAF) Emmett Scanlon

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