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We have reached an exciting juncture in our Play Park Ballyfermot project this week, as the four teams short-listed for the second phase of our architectural design competition submit their final proposals for a unique community space in the ‘Le Lawns’, Le Fanu Park, Ballyfermot. The judging panel, comprised of Gary Mongey (Box Architects), Amica Dall (Assemble), Turlough Galvin (The Matheson Foundation), Leslie Moore (Dublin City Council Parks & Landscaping Division) and two Ballyfermot community members and Youth workers – Ger O’Reilly and Aimee Harding – will deliver their decision on these proposals today, with the winning team being formally announced on Monday, 1 February.
This decision will mark the end of a long a six month engagement process which began with the team at the IAF meeting with local representatives to discuss ideas for the park, and which has culminated in the four short-listed teams themselves travelling to Ballyfermot to discuss their plans and receive feedback from local groups. The four teams have come from far and wide, hailing from New York, Amserdam & Rotterdam, London and Dublin respectively.
During each of their visits they met the 6th class group from St. Ultan’s Primary School in Cherry Orchard and transition year students in St. Dominic’s Secondary School, as well as a group of local residents, young BMX riders, staff and stakeholders from the community who have been engaged in the project from the beginning.
It’s evident that these meetings have contributed to the development of the team’s designs in significant ways. Jeffrey Cheung from the New York design team Conte Murata Cheung said “We really value the fun and thought-provoking feedback from the community members we met, both young and old. We can genuinely say that our design is better because of it”. This was a sentiment echoed by each of the teams who acknowledged the benefit of meeting with end users to discuss their ideas and get feedback before submitting their final designs.
St. Ultan’s Primary School 6th Class teacher Jennifer Holland said that meeting the architects provided students “a huge boost to their self-esteem to have their opinions heard and possibly incorporated into such an exciting project. They took it very seriously and learned a huge amount about team-work along the way.” You can listen HERE to the children talking about their experience of working with the design teams.
The decision this week will be a major milestone in the life of the project, the roots of which were partially laid by a group of local young people in 2011. Richard Carolan is a BMX rider and Youth Leader with Ballyfermot Youth Service (BYS) and along with fellow Youth Leader Lee Corcoran and BYS Youth Worker Ger O’Reilly, advocated for the creation of a BMX and skate park in Ballyfermot some five years ago. Carolan and his colleagues met with Dublin City Council to discuss the potential for such a development in Ballyfermot, however they were told there was no budget available at the time. He has naturally been very enthusiastic to see the incorporation of a skate and BMX space into the play park project, and feels that the new space will bring a real boost to the area – “Ballyfermot has needed something like this for a long time…Skateboarders are going to love this park”, and emphasized the responsibility he felt in representing the interests of his peers and the wider community to Dublin City Council – “I never just spoke for myself… I also spoke for people who could not speak up and whose voices were not being heard.”
We felt that creating the opportunity for the design teams to meet with people like Richard Carolan and the children of St. Ultan’s would be both informative and inspirational – helping to ground their ideas and concepts in vibrant community life – and today we look forward to seeing the result of these encounters, as the judges critically assess the final proposals for the Play Park Ballyfermot Design Competition.
We are very much looking forward to sharing with you all of the brilliant ideas that the designers and the community have come up with so far during the engagement and pre-design process; and are confident that the result today will be a set of four designs which are both responsive to community need and ambitious in scale…however, there can only be one winner…check back on Monday to find out who!