Ireland: Teeny Tiny Homes Are Not Dead, Just Smushed Into High Rise Towers

picture of two adults and five children, circa 1901
Dublin Slum dwellers 1901 photo by Mrs. Charles O'Connor is licensed under the public domain
Dublin, Ireland slum tenants, 1901. Irish parliamentarians are concerned that crowded co-living high rises may create similar squalor and ill health.

The pro’s and con’s of co-living1 have been receiving considerable coverage in Ireland lately. The debate has been spurred by a proposal for a soaring co-living tower stretching 50 metres high above the Dublin skyline. (And yes, that’s a mere bump on a log to many big cities where 50 storeys high is beneath notice, let alone 50 metres.) Read more in The Planner: Dublin co-living development tower triggers concern

On the “pro” side of the debate is a prominent free market developer, together with an Irish government anxious to address the growing housing unaffordability crisis for young people. In support of their position: the undeniable truth that co-living buildings can be extremely profitable to private sector developers.

This private sector interest suits governments anxious to indulge in neoliberal “hands off, not our problem” practices, which pretend truly affordable housing solutions can be achieved by private developer wizardry. But those sitting in the Irish Parliament have been far from unanimous about the value of this high rise co-living proposal: Read more in the Irish Times: Proposal for 14-storey tower beside Victorian market

Leading the other side of the argument is the national Sinn Fein Party, crying “squalor!” Unfortunately, the profitability of these building arises from wedging tenants cheek by jowl into the tiniest of private cells. An added nuisance currently of concern: where tenants mingle in the public areas (such as kitchens), co-living appears to offer little social distancing safety from the world’s current pandemic problems. Read more in the Belfast Telegraph: Sinn Fein Bill seeks to ban co-living developments

Between the more long-lasting concerns of profit on one hand, and squalor on the other, the developer of the soaring Dublin co-living skyscraper proposal seeks a middle ground. The plans are to inoculate the project with the bells and whistles that will make downtown co-living trendy — a place where young bling-bedecked youth will be happy to pay over the odds for a hankie of space, as well as permission to rub shoulders (literally) with many, many more of the same. Read more in the Irish Times: Is there a middle ground on co-living schemes in Ireland?

Finally (for the moment) there are hints of a comprehensive plea by “housing officials” who will report (have reported?) on all the good things that can be achieved by building co-living rental housing. Some supposed features of the report come courtesy of a paywalled article (though available through free-trial subscription). The report which the article refers to is either extremely well hidden, or not yet published.

Read more (most of it covered in other articles), or at very least the headline of the article in The London Times: Housing Officials Urge Darragh O’Brien Not To Kill Off Co-Living Schemes

And those housing officials are . . ? saying exactly what . . ? Stay tuned . . .

P.S. If your city/state/country has not yet encountered these arguments, fear not, it likely will. Such are the economic benefits to private developers of cramming large numbers of tenants into one building, regardless of the enormous sprawl spaces available for housing to even a small country like Ireland.

Footnotes

  1. For a discussion of co-living and the potential benefits, see: Co-living: What Is It? Who Does It? Why Bother?

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