The Village Development Plan for Rowlestown by iCon Architecture with Cummins + Voortman won the Emerging Sustainable Technologies category at the Irish Planning Institute (IPI) 9th National Planning Awards which took place on Friday 19 February in Dublin Castle. Cummins + Voortman Architects are a multi-disciplinary practice based in Tipperary and Kilkenny. The project particularly impressed the judges with how technology was used. The judges commended the virtual model which was created for the entire village which served as a canvas on which changes to the village were tested and developed. The judges said, ‘Building Information Modelling was used to model the terrain, existing buildings, proposed sites, shadow studies, and wind patterns allowing proposals to be tested and validated. Interactive visualisations and drive through video showcases enabled the community to engage and assist in decision making.’
The judging panel were particularly impressed by the use of technology deployed by iCon Architecture with Cummins + Voortman in the preparation of the Rowlestown Village Development Framework Plan (VDFP) for Fingal County Council. The VDFP is an advisory plan with a long term vision for the future. It offers support for the Local Area Plan, within the structure of the Fingal County Development Plan. A comprehensive virtual model was created for the entire village. This model served as a three-dimensional ‘canvas’ on which urban morphologies were tested and developed. Building Information Modelling (BIM) was used to model the terrain, existing buildings and proposed sites, shadow studies, wind patterns etc. allowing proposals to be tested and validated. All new proposed development zones and public realm improvement schemes were specifically crafted to suit the specific condition of each individual site to ensure an example of accurate implementation of design guidance. The process was supplemented by interactive deliverables such as visualisations of a proposed village centre and a drive through video which showcases the potential for technology to engage communities and assist decision making. The project was one of a series of Village Development Framework Plans undertaken in sequence, completed and approved by Fingal County Council as an advisory document to inform the Local Area Plan.
The Rowlestown VDFP is the fifth undertaken, all of which have been positively finalised and presented to Council. For each of the projects they have investigated fresh ways of analysing and providing proposals with continuous and collaborative liaison with the clients. The Rowlestown project is innovative in the way that it formulates a policy for the landscape prior to devising the design code for housing areas, thus generating a strong structure within which the developments can be considered. It is an important step forward in using new technologies to facilitate communication at a professional level first, then as a plan which can be understood and appreciated by non-professionals, whether in the Council or in the locality, and finally to give a clear yardstick against which to judge the developers’ applications.