Unlocking Housing with Gameification

TypeMixed Use, Residential, Masterplan
LocationSligo, Co. Sligo, Ireland
StatusConcept Design
Program96 Residential Units, 22 Commercial Units, 5 Community Amenity Units
Size12,090 m2
Site7,200 m2

Savoy Village was is a feasibility study to determine how a dense site in the heart of Sligo might be developed using innovative forms of user engagement and data collection. During the development of the project, at the client's request, the project and approach was entered in the Irish Architecture Foundations Unlocking Housing competition. Our entry focused on using the principles of gamification as a means to understand user needs and profile and apply community financing strategies to de-risk development and provide user focused housing. 

Let’s play the housing game!

In recent history, we’ve seen the delivery of housing as a for profit enterprise. With this commodification, we’ve lost sight of the critical community function of housing. Terms like a starter home, first-time buyer and property ladder imply that there are more steps to take and that this is a game with winners and losers. So let’s see how the game is currently played and how we might build a better game.

Building as usual vs. the new game

The steps that are currently taken to deliver housing are mapped out to understanding the pros and cons of the current model. This then allows us to propose a counter approach, one that builds homes rather than houses and communities rather than developments.

The data-driven design process

To build for the public we believe the whole Housing Delivery Process (HDP)* needs to be built in public and with the public i.e. in a transparent and participatory manner. Our proposal for a ‘visionled’ approach brings diverse local stakeholders around a shared vision from the outset. We believe that a more participatory and inclusive approach is not just a ‘nice to have’; it is a critical answer to unlocking housing. Our proposal is in part to allow the all stakeholders to have their say and help shape the outcome - by gamifying the process to simulate the design and decision process allows local stakeholders to effectively become members of the decision making team.

Building Together

The level and weighting of the input depends on the stakeholders role in the project. This is to ensure appropriate influence on the outcome of the process. Potential residents answers detailed surveys on the formal structure, operations and facilities that may be provided, while the wider community respond to aspect of the project that will affect the area more generally. We believe by having all stakeholder inputting from the beginning, we will have a more inclusive project, designed around the community need which is less likely to fall fowl on nimbyism.

Understanding user needs

To meet the needs of the projects potential users, a number of narrative profiles have been developed. By imaging their wants and desires and values, we can begin to see how the development can respond to fulfill these.

Designed for stackability

The units are designed on a structural grid that facilitates stacking therefore allowing the unit mix to remain flexible prior to construction, responding to user demand.

Diversity on the exterior

Depending on the arrangement and mix of the units, different external configurations emerge. These spaces create opportunities to private and shared amenities.

A home for all

The units have been designed to meet a diversity of needs with narrative profiles applied to image how the spaces might be used. All spaces are generous warm and welcoming.

Unit 1 - For the young couple or singleton

This is designed for the single person or couple who are not in need of much space. It's designed to be compact and efficient, minimising space waste and maximising space potential.

Unit - 2 The couple or young family

More generous than unit 1, this provides room for a couple who might decide to grow to a young family. Clever storage is utilised to maximise space use.

Unit 3 - The family home

This is the most generous of the residential units. It's designed to consider multi-generational needs, growing with the users and adapting as they change through life.

Unit 4 - For the Entrepreneur

This is a commercial ground floor unit. Flexible in layout, it's designed to adapt the the needs of the business owner that has taken the leap of faith to start something new.

Diversity from modularity

Combining the units together in configurations that work within the site constraints and in a manner that meets the needs of the potential residents will result in a distinct spatial configuration. This diversity is amplified by the variety of different material types that can be applied to the facades of the units.

Strategy applied to site

The strategy is applied in the dense context of medieval city centre block in Sligo. This infill approach unlocks the potential of this back-lands site, helping to meet the housing need and activate the city centre. Named after the old Savoy Cinema that still leaves a trace, the project is known as Savoy Village.

Village in Section

Central Park

The common space on ground level is designed as a lush green park with native planting. Traces of historic buildings are mapped and shown in the ground to create paths and surface treatments, denoting different areas within the landscape.

Castle Street Entrance

The proposal uses existing lanes as the way to connect the development into the wider context of Sligo providing easy transition between two different worlds.

A view Benbulben

The project has been designed to leverage the view of Benbulben, this creates a direct contextural link with the wider context of Co. Sligo.

The result of the game

The final outcome is the result of the needs and requirements of the users, applied to the site to create a unique community.


Concept Design
  • Inna Stryzhak
  • James McConville
  • Kevin Loftus


  • Natasha A. Trice