Eoin Condren: The regeneration of Ireland's cities


At the Property Industry Ireland conference on 14 June in Dublin, we were rather the newest kid on the block.

It was important for us, and for me as a native Dubliner, to showcase how U+I’s legacy and heritage can deliver sustainable change for the city by tapping into just the same things – its own legacy and heritage.

Of course, we’ve been active in Dublin for some time now, and have established a significant U+I footprint in buildings across the capital. But, as we work to develop this presence, the conference gave us an excellent opportunity to outline our unique approach to development.

Like U+I, Dublin has a long and proud history – but it’s undergone a drastic transformation in recent years as it surges into the future. Dublin has emerged as the technology hub in Western Europe, and as Silicon Docks has grown, so too has the city’s population. Art, shopping and a changed cultural fabric have all followed – but the city’s pride in its history remains.

We’re a progressive city, open to new ideas and thinking, but there’s a danger that by looking only to the future, we risk leaving behind the communities who have lived in Dublin since long before the dot com revolution. How do we create vibrant and rich communities? We need thoughtful regeneration – that reflects the city’s past while also looking to the future.

As Dublin continues to evolve, we want to be part of responding to the needs of the city and breathing life back into communities. This starts with listening to them and understanding the fine grain of a place, digging into the history of the place, scouring local stories for inspiration, creating meaningful activities on site from the point at which we acquire the site and engaging local communities throughout the planning process.

It is the people of Dublin who make but also own their communities. We may own a bit of land here, and build a building there. But we can never truly own the place, that lies with the community, its people and its heritage.

U+I’s approach to place-making puts culture at the heart of development. We want to work with the public sector to develop a best practice approach to ensuring that Dublin’s culture is not eroded by insensitive development. And that is what we are doing. We need to drive socio-economic value, not just our bottom line. Projects that don’t just focus on physical regeneration but also look holistically at the need of the community.

It’s with that kind of imagination – and with intelligence and audacity – that we’ll help deliver the places Dubliners will want tomorrow, while respecting the place it is today.