'Diversity spurs economic development and homogeneity slows it down'.
(Source: Study by Quamrul Ashraf of Williams College and Oded Galor of Brown University)
The Housing Strategy is aiming to provide 35.000 new housing units between 2015 and 2020. This is a gigantic task which will cost a lot of money and need careful consideration in all aspects.
But how do we implement this many new residential areas into the current housing stock while making sure that they will become great new urban areas providing its residents with surroundings that will support them in the life they wish to lead?
This is not just designing 1 unit and multiplying it by 35.000. Developing a successful new residential area or adding to an existing one is highly complicated and there are many components other than just putting up a building.
Infrastructure is often the backbone and it seem impossible that anything can be built without the availability of roads, schools, sanitation, electricity etc. (though it might happen now and then….). However the ‘softer’ urban components such as community, moveability, places to meet, play areas, connections to surrounding areas etc. are equally important and should often be factored in much earlier in the process than they currently are.
Whether new housing is being added to an existing community or a residential area is being built from scratch creating a diverse community is crucial. Existing communities might hesitate to welcome new residents that are different from them, however research has shown that the best cities are the ones with communities that are culturally, racially and ethnic diverse.
Some of the world’s most loved cities such as San Francisco, New York and London have gained their strengths from their diverse communities, because like in any eco system, diverse communities are more stable, resilient and better able to cope with change and stress.
Research show that diverse groups are better able to adapt to new technologies and ideas and to encourage the search for novel information and perspectives, this leading to better decision making and problem solving. Diverse groups are much more innovative, creative and adaptable than homogenous groups and can bring true vibrancy to urban areas.
The construction of new housing stock in Ireland is much more than bricks and mortar. It is about creating successful new urban areas which are fully inclusive, unified multiracial/multi ethnic residential areas, because a successful community is a good indicator of the vitality and future of a place.