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Visualising Vacancy


In June 2022, preliminary results from that year’s Census were published by the Central Statistics Office. These results included extensive data on vacancy – a particularly hot topic, considering that on Census night, there were over 166,000 homes sitting dormant in Ireland (or more houses than in all of County Galway).

Rudi O’Reilly Meehan, a freelance data scientist and data visualisation expert, decided to dig deeper into the results, spending weeks manipulating, interrogating and wrangling the data. The result of those menacing-sounding data operations was Dormant, an interactive piece that brings the dense, static data to life for the public and forms part of the Housing Unlocked exhibition.

This talk follows Rudi’s creative process in building this piece, full of red herrings, head-scratching and eventual inspiration, answering questions like:

– What does “data cleaning” actually mean?
– How do we pick apart datasets to find interesting stories?
– Once we have these stories, how do we combine narrative and visuals to tell them effectively?
– What’s the easiest way for me to start creating visuals of my own?


Visitor information:

The gallery is open Tuesday-Friday 12-5pm, Saturday 2-5pm until 17 February 2023 (but closed for the holidays 18 December-2 January).

Admission is free, and no booking is required to see the Housing Unlocked and Workers’ Villages exhibitions.

Free, drop-in tours take place every Tuesday and Thursday, 1pm and Saturday, 3pm.

Accessibility: Entrance is at ground level. Some displays are on the first floor. Please ask the gallery attendants to guide you to the lift if needed. Audio recordings of Housing Unlocked exhibition panel text are available via QR codes on the panels and on the exhibition webpages for the displays.


Housing Unlocked is a partnership between the Irish Architecture Foundation and The Housing Agency, sponsored by The Housing Agency with additional support from The Arts Council, The Land Development Agency, the New European Bauhaus, and venue partner Trinity College Dublin. The exhibition and public programme are curated by the Irish Architecture Foundation.


Image: A still from Dormant by Rudi O’Reilly Meehan, visualising vacant sites around Ireland from CSO Census 2022 data.