The New Urban Ruins
Vacancy, Urban Politics and International Experiments in the Post-crisis City

13: Tracing the role of material and immaterial infrastructures in imagining diverse urban futures: Dublin’s Bolt Hostel and Apollo House


This chapter focuses on the rise of radical actions as a response to the extreme austerity implemented by the Irish government after the global financial crisis of 2008. Globally, the presence and visibility of vacant spaces in urban sites contributed to their use by activists to imagine alternative futures (DeSilvey and Edensor, 2013; Németh and Langhorst, 2014; Ziehl and Oßwald, 2015). There has been an increase in using occupation-based practices as strategies to claim space and achieve political goals (Vasudevan, 2015, 2017; Wood, 2017). After the financial crisis, Ireland’s landscape was littered with vacant buildings and ghost estates – the ‘new ruins of Ireland’ (Kitchin et al, 2014). These ruins were physical reminders of ‘everything that had gone wrong with Ireland’ (Hosford, 2017). As Hearne et al (2018: 154) insightfully argue, ‘activism has been shaped by, and has acted as a response to, the main characteristics of each period and the different crises generated by them’. Ireland faced a ‘tsunami of austerity’ (Hearne, 2014: 18), resulting in a housing and homelessness crisis, with over 9,000 homeless people in April 2020 (Focus Ireland, 2020). As a response, there was an increase in movements in Ireland that used housing and occupation as strategies for political action (see also the chapter by Di Feliciantonio and O’Callaghan, this volume).

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