Housing in the Tech City

Project Title

Housing in the Tech City: Challenges for housing provision and addressing homelessness

Lead Researcher

Carla Kayanan


Robin Ferguson


Irish Research Council New Foundations

Dublin’s tech-sector is on an upward trajectory—from start-ups to multinational corporations. Simultaneously, Dublin’s homeless population is also on the rise. Is there a connection?

This project investigates if and how tech-sector development in Dublin is impacting housing provision in the city-region by comparing two Dublin neighbourhoods at different stages of the ‘tech-development’ life cycle: Dublin Docklands, a developed tech-campus with some of the largest global tech companies, and the Liberties in Dublin 8, an emergent neighbourhood for tech-sector activity. Development trajectories will be matched against data collected by the Dublin Regional Homeless Executive on when homeless individuals present for services, and from Threshold, a national housing charity, on where renters struggle with the private market. 

Three aims shape the project: 1) Provide an evidence base for the tech-sector’s impact on housing; 2) Explore the housing dynamics that result in people accessing Threshold’s services; and 3) Collaboratively develop evidence-based, action-oriented policy recommendations towards addressing mitigation measures.


Key Findings & Lessons

  • Tech culture is inward looking and bottom line focused and this impacts the planning process.
  • Buying power of tech companies demonstrates their ability to thwart planning intentions
  • Sky bridges and private entrances form one example of building interventions that cannot be controlled but that influence the exclusive use of space.
  • Tech companies are solution oriented and not focused on responsibility to their location –appealing to their CSR unlikely to create change.
  • Tech culture’s demand on time and the benefit of proximity
  • Living in close proximity to work is less about innovation (as economic geography and innovation studies would have us believe) and more about efficiency and meeting the time demands of the tech sector.
  • Tech workers want to build up their CV and career trajectories and do not see housing as an asset
  • Planners want to build complete communities and this can ultimately help out the tech companies as it allows their own worker’s families to grow in place
  • Not all tech-employees are equal. Contract workers for the tech-companies face similar pressures as their salaried counterparts yet they do not command the same salaries. This impacts the type of housing they can afford.
  • Companies do not bring in as much employment as perceived
  • ‘Ireland just thankful to have jobs’ is a mentality that requires analysis



Though local actors, contexts, histories, and geographies of individual cities matter, the tech-sector’s reach is global. Lessons learned in Dublin will be relevant to Ireland’s second-tier cities as the National Planning Framework aims to redirect economic activity to these cities. Lessons will also apply to cities across the globe dealing with growing homeless populations and similar tech-development trajectories. 

Project Outputs

Housing in the Tech City

A critique of innovation districts: Entrepreneurial living and the burden of shouldering urban development

Environment and Planning A: Economy and Space

Kayanan, C.M. (2021)

Housing in the Tech City

Bright lights, tech city for the no-collar worker

Transnational Institute, State of Power Report, 2020

Kayanan, C.M. and Pajevic, Filipa (2020)

Housing in the Tech City

Mapping Green Dublin

Cities under lockdown: Public health, urban vulnerabilities and neighbourhood planning in Dublin

in Doucet, B., van Mellik, R. and Filion, P. (Eds) Global Reflections on COVID-19 Urban Inequalities, Polity Press

Kayanan, C.M., Moore-Cherry, N., and Clavin, A. (2021)

Housing in the Tech City

Silicon slipways and slippery slopes: techno-rationality and the reinvigoration of neoliberal logics in the Dublin Docklands

Space and Polity, 22.1: 50-66.

Kayanan, C.M. (2018)