Westmeath team devise way of making houses work for different generations

Westmeath team devise way of making houses work for different generations

A Westmeath team that has come up with a concept that could help different generations from families live together but separately, has made it through to the shortlist in an international challenge set by the Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government.

Architects Paul Hogan and Patrick Henderson and planner Eoghan Lynch have devised a way of future-proofing houses, so that families can more easily extend later if they want to accommodate another generational tier.

In essence, installation of a €750 support beam at construction stage; the use of concrete as a flooring material between storeys, and opting for dormer-style trusses at attic level could slash thousands off the cost of a conversion or extension down the line, explains Mr Hogan, who is team leader with the Westmeath County Council Capital Housing Design Team.

The team’s plan is one of five that have made it to the shortlist for the final round of the Rebuilding Ireland Homes for Smart Ageing Universal Design Challenge.

In total, some 63 proposals were submitted and the five shortlisted projects now each receive €10,000 towards the cost of working further on their proposals.

Paul Hogan, Pat Henderson and Eoghan Lynch were employed recently by Westmeath County Council’s Capital Housing team in order to accelerate the delivery of social and affordable housing throughout the county in accordance with Rebuilding Ireland.

Both Paul and Pat have 20 years of experience in the private sector, the majority of that time working in the area of housing. Eoghan worked with Offaly County Council for 11 years.

Their competition entry was one they did outside office hours and at weekends, employing the experience accumulated in both the private and public sectors, but Mr Hogan stresses that there was extremely valuable input from their council work colleagues Leo Noone, Helena Heffernan, Mark Kerrigan, Thomas Flynn, Veronica O’Boyle and Micheál Gaffney.

Damien English TD, Minister for Housing and Urban Renewal announced the five commended entries.

He explained that government policy is to support older people to live with dignity and independence in their own homes and communities for as long as possible.

“Adaptable and smart homes are the future with advantages from saving energy to creating homes suitable for a lifetime,” he stated, adding that the shortlisted entrants superbly demonstrated the potential to create homes suitable for lifetime living and to create economic and social benefits for the community at large.

The Mullingar team’s proposal is for what are termed ‘Multi‐Generational Adaptable Homes’, a design concept that would allow families to live within their community over many generations.

Another of the shortlisted ideas, ‘The Abhaile Project’ has been submitted by a team of which TV architect Dermot Bannon is a member.

The five commended entrants will now be asked to develop their ideas further in round two of the challenge.

During this stage the commended entrants will be required to build substantive proof that the principles of Universal Design have been considered and that the idea is feasible, cost effective and has the potential for mainstreaming. Round two entrants will also be required to make an in-person presentation to the judging panel.

These presentations will take place during the week beginning June 19, and the winners will be announced during an awards ceremony in Dublin Castle on June 28. The winners will receive a further €50,000 to help deliver on their solution.

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