Sign up to our newsletter

Find about what we're up to with regular updates
sign up now!

Open Call, Public realm

Public Age

A project that interrogated how public space is, can be and should be designed with older people in mind through a collaborative project and public outcome in 2017/2018.

Public Age was an open call for architect-led multidisciplinary teams to explore creatively how public space is, could be and should be designed with older people in mind. It was commissioned by the dlrCountyCouncil/HSE Arts and Health Partnership, with additional grant-aid support from the Arts Council, and the open call process was run by the Irish Architecture Foundation. The winners of the open call were London-based multidisciplinary design studio The Decorators in collaboration with Dublin-based artist Joe Coveney.


The aim of Public Age was to have the winning team collaboratively engage with a group of older people from Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County in order to develop a public outcome in the County. The project would reveal the importance of well-designed public space to health, wellbeing and positive ageing and would encourage and empower people and communities of all ages to engage in a creative way with the issues explored. The team would reflect on how our public spaces serve our older communities and work with older communities to highlight, and perhaps even solve, some of the challenges they face in our urban and rural environments.


To do this, The Decorators and Joe Coveney began with a phase of carefully planned one to one conversations with twelve older citizens from around DLR. These conversations began to reveal the issues older people face in public space, how they connect to (or feel removed from) their communities, and the importance of rituals in everyday life. Based on this, phase two of the project meant the construction of the Public Age Meeting House: a mobile structure that could travel the county, occupy public spaces and frame larger conversations among citizens of all ages. The Public Age Meeting House travelled to UCD Belfield, Ballyogan, Sallynoggin and Dundrum in summer 2017, meeting with residents, students, architects, designers, politicians, community workers and others. They discussed what it means to become or feel ‘older’, they considered how public spaces work well or poorly, how public space is where difference meets and where you can (and should) discard your assumptions of others, and how crucial public space and daily rituals are to connecting with and maintaining a community. From the project there were a number of resources created, including a series of podcasts on IAF Radio and a short film by the Reelists, below.

The Public Age podcasts

Public Age Film
Public Age Voxpop 4: UCD Belfield
Public Age Voxpop 3: Sallynoggin
Public Age Voxpop 2: Ballyogan
Public Age Voxpop 1: Ballyogan