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Minister English launches the Homes for Smart Ageing Universal Design Challenge

Published on Tuesday, 31 Jan 2017
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Minister English at the launch of the Homes for Smart Ageing Universal Design Challenge

Today (31 January 2017) Damien English T.D., Minister for Housing and Urban Renewal, launched the 2017 Homes for Smart Ageing Universal Design Challenge. An initiative under the Rebuilding Ireland programme (Action 2.19), the challenge aims to stimulate and encourage the design and construction industries to be innovative in designing and delivering housing solutions for older people.

Speaking at today’s launch, Minister English commented on the ageing of Ireland’s population as representing one of the most significant demographic and societal developments in the years ahead. He added that, “with the number of people over the age of 65 expected to reach 1.4 million by 2041, the implications for public policy in areas such as housing, health and urban and rural planning are considerable. This challenge is aimed at harnessing novel and innovative ideas that will improve the quality of life for older persons,in the context of Rebuilding Ireland and the Programme of Actions for Smart Ageing.”

“To borrow a phrase, ‘we want to inspire people to think differently’ commented Ger Craddock, Chief Officer of the Centre for Excellence in Universal Design. An expanding, ageing population, is a growing global challenge, but one that can be tackled through new and innovative thinking. We expect the talent in Ireland to demonstrate how simple ideas can change people’s lives and benefit society as a whole.”

While primarily of interest to designers, the competition is open to all. €100,000 worth of prizes is on offer, with five €10,000 awards for commended entries after Round 1 and the grand prize of €50,000 for the ultimate winner. The winning idea would be expected to make a significant impact on Irish society, using universal design principles to create products, services, solutions, and systems to improve the quality of life for older persons in Ireland and ultimately, all of us.  The winning entry should also be cost-effective, with the potential for mainstreaming, in support of smart-ageing solutions, in the areas of:

• Smart technologies in housing for older people, and/or;
• Adaptation of existing houses to meet the need of older people, and/or;
• Life-time communities.

The competition was launched in the Custom House today, 31 January, and will be open for entries until the 13 March, 2017. All entries are submitted online through the website,


About Rebuilding Ireland
Designed to accelerate housing supply in this country, Rebuilding Ireland is tackling our country’s housing shortage. This action-driven plan will result in a dramatic increase in the delivery of homes nationwide. Ambitious and imaginative in its reach, and radical in its approach, this plan will address the needs of homeless people and families in emergency accommodation, accelerate the provision of social housing, deliver more housing, utilise vacant homes and improve the rental sector.

Backed by funding of €5.55 billion, Rebuilding Ireland is designed to significantly increase the supply of social housing by 47,000, double the output of overall housing to at least 25,000 homes per annum by 2021, service all tenure types (social, private and rental), and tackle homelessness comprehensively. The wide-ranging plan seeks to address all aspects of the housing system under Five Pillars:

• Address Homelessness
• Accelerate Social Housing
• Build More Homes
• Improve the Rental Sector
• Utilise Existing Housing

Rebuilding Ireland is available on  (link is external)
Follow us on Twitter for regular updates: @RebuildingIrl  #RebuildingIreland

About Universal Design
Universal Design is the design and composition of an environment so that it can be accessed, understood and used to the greatest extent possible by all people, regardless of their age, size or disability. This includes public places in the built environment such as buildings, streets or spaces that the public have access to; products and services provided in those places; and systems that are available including information and communications technology (ICT).
(Disability Act, 2005)

For More Information
Press Queries:
Seán Dunne, Housing Market Policy & Land Management
Email: Phone: +353 (0)1 888 2000

Project Queries:
Hugh Torpey, Project Manager, HSAUDC 2017
Phone: +353 (0) 1 280 2641