The developer of a proposed new, European-style co-housing apartment development in Cork city centre says that such projects are needed to attract long-term residents back into Irish cities and strengthen urban communities.
Architect-turned-developer Karl Shane Dískín has proposed ten new apartments on a formerly derelict brownfield site on 20/21 Kyle Street, just off North Main Street in Cork's historic core.
The apartment complex includes larger than average apartment sizes with terraces and balconies for all units, as well as a residents' communal amenity space at the ground floor that will open onto the street.
Mr Dískín said that such 'co-housing' complexes are common in European cities such as Paris, Barcelona, Amsterdam and Copenhagen and offer both a more environmentally sustainable and socially active lifestyle than suburban housing estate living. He said they also offer more space, control, and security of tenure than the controversial 'co-living' spaces mooted for Dublin.
He said that a change in approach in housing is needed in coming decades to reduce social isolation and urban sprawl.
"We need to build more urban mid-rise buildings and foster desirable, vertical communities as an alternative to edge-of-town, placeless housing estates," he said, pointing to the proximity of urban amenities such as bars and cafes, public transport, schools, parks and creches, as some of the benefits of living in the city.
The proposed apartments have floor plans that are 10%-15% larger than standard and apartments are dual-aspect to gain sunlight at different times of the day, while the car spaces have also been omitted for sheltered, secure bike spaces instead.
Mr Dískín added:
"This is an approach I hope to replicate in the future, to give Irish people real choice in terms of where and how they live, to make city living not only the ecologically sustainable choice but also the desirable, aspirational choice in terms of quality of life."
It is one of a series of developments proposed throughout the city in a wave of projects that could regenerate communities in the city core. Cork City Council is moving ahead with a number of such projects, providing social housing in parts of the city core.
A planning application for 11 apartments on Pouladuff Road was published this week, while plans for a gated community of 13 units on Coach Street are also progressing. In addition, a long-awaited social housing project for the site of the former Nancy Spains bar on Barrack Street has commenced work, too.
Former Lord Mayor, Cllr Mick Finn said such projects can have a significant impact in the city: "Transforming derelict and unused sites in areas like Pouladuff, North Main Street and Coach Street is great and providing new housing stock is even better. We must also, however, ensure that existing residents are not compromised in terms of light, security and accessibility to their properties. We should also try to ensure the new projects fit in with the existing nature of the area, something the Barrack Street housing project, for example, does quite well."