Using Vacant Spaces

In 2011 Dublin City Council (DCC) introduced an innovative scheme to link up landlords, who possess vacant property, with artists and designers, who are short on funds, but who are in need of a working space. The initiative evolved from the availability of unused retail and commercial space lying idle in Dublin. Citizens asked their Local Authority to offer space for locals, who add value to the area and to encourage growth in local business and employment.

As the former Lord Mayor of Dublin Andrew Montague explained “It is in everybody’s interest to have vacant spaces in the city utilised.  Leaving them empty leaves a negative impression, while artistic and cultural activities can enhance individual streets, which is something the entire surrounding community can benefit from too.”

To this end, DCC, acting as ‘matchmaker’, made a call out to property owners and real estate agents, to gauge their interest in placing their vacant buildings on a Register. Artists and collectives or organisations, who were in need of a working area, then applied to DCC to be added to the Register. They then meet up with the respective landlords. Diverse individuals and groups “clustered” together, to work in the same location, in order to reduce costs. All payments, such as the energy bills and rent, are agreed between the artists and the property owner.

DCC are encouraging short terms lets from one week to six months, where the percentage paid is usually 50% of the standard charges. One such building is Eblana House on Marrowbone Lane near the Cornmarket, which just welcomed new tenants before Easter. The spaces are all used for creative, non-profit, cultural, and craft purposes.

“This is a win-win situation” says Declan Wallace, Executive Manager in Dublin City Council Development Department “where the owners of vacant properties get activity in and around their property and the artistic and cultural community get temporary access to space not normally used for creative purposes”. At present all the proposed buildings have tenants, which will promote our reputation as an artistic city. DCC wish to continue the scheme, so if you have an empty building, please contact or if you are an artist in need of a work space, get in touch with

by Tracy O’Brien