Empowering Communities To Regenerate Their Built Environment

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The Framework pilot project is inspired by a successful initiative run by the American Institute of Architects (AIA) called the Design Assistance Team (DAT) programme. Framework introduces the Design Assistance programme to Ireland to test how it can work in the Irish context.

The Design Assistance programme is managed by the AIA’s Centre for Communities by Design in Washington DC. The pilot is a collaboration between Dublin City Council City Architects Division and the AIA, which is guiding the process.

You can get involved or sign up to find out more, just contact Framework here.


The programme is a systematic approach to community led regeneration of the built environment. It empowers communities to improve their built environment through an open, collaborative and systematic approach. It brings the public, policy makers, community and business leaders together to devise a vision and agree a framework for collective action.

  • Context. Each project addresses local realities and the unique challenges and assets of each community.
  • Objectivity. It is delivered with the help of expert practitioners working on a voluntary basis (the ‘Design assistance Team’). The team’s role is to listen, and to provide an independent analysis and unencumbered technical advice that serves the public interest.
  • Interdisciplinary. The process requires all community interests /issues to be represented. It brings a whole systems analyses and an interdisciplinary focus to the challenges presented making it more likely to deliver appropriate and successful strategies.
  • Participatory. The process provides a platform for relationship building, partnership, and collaboration for implementation, with the citizen expert central to the process. This grassroots approach captures the ethos of successful community development.

The project is included as an action under the Dublin Regional Action Plan for Jobs 2016 – 2018

Story so far

The project emerged from the PIVOT Dublin Hidden Rooms event hosted by Dublin City Council in November 2014. Joel Mills, Director of the Centre for Communities by Design, was an invited speaker at the event under the theme of ‘The Empowered City – enabling people to activate neighbourhoods’. His story encouraged DCC and participants to think about how the programme could be used to benefit communities in Dublin and Ireland. The AIA was also interested in sharing the programme internationally and offered to help formulate a pilot project in Dublin and guide an initial Design Assistance project with a Dublin community. The AIA held a training workshop in Dublin on 25th-26th June 2015 for potential Design Assistance team members. 28 people from diverse professional backgrounds in design, construction, finance and community development took part.

The pilot project is following the AIA programme steps. Using our website designed by Maria Hinds, photography by Aisling McCoy, we put out a call for a community partner in March 2016.  We received terrific applications from different community groups and are now working on developing a pilot in the North Inner City. We aim to hold a public event in September 2016.

If you’re interested in finding out more or participating in the pilot contact Framework here.


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