10 Ideas Changing Ireland’s Urban Fabric

What’s happening in your city?  Is anyone engage with the urban fabric?  Are people working to improve the urban environment of Ireland’s cities?  Well, if you’re not, who is?  We present to you (in no particular order) 10 ideas changing the city fabric of Ireland.

Fed Up

Formed by a group of artists, horticulturists and permaculturists from Kinsale, Co. Cork, who aim to turn the urban environment into an landscape.  By doing so, they combined art and food production, upcycling plastic bottles and cartons into bright, colourful pieces of edible creativity.  Fed Up have featured at Body & Soul and Electric Picnic.  Much of their work is visible in Kinsale and Cork City.

Dublin Zombie Walk

Dublin Zombie Walk does exactly what is says on the tin.  Started in 2010, this event raises funding for Barnardos Ireland, and the Irish Cancer Society.  Besides being for a good cause, they hold the UNofficial record for the largest gathering of zombies in the world.  Zombie Walk 2012 was held on August 4th to great success, which will surely be built upon in 2013.  People from all over Ireland come, cover themselves in red corn syrup, walk through Dublin City center while saying “Grr, Argh” or the much enthused “Brains….BBBBrrrainns”.  Its great craic.  🙂

Street Feast

Street Feast is a day of local lunches across Ireland, usually held in the middle of Summer, hosted by you and your neighbours. They can be anywhere really — out on the street, in a local park or in your front garden.  People bring food, friends and a smile, creating an event that brings communities together.  From personal experience, it is an event where people reclaim the street and their neighbourhood.  Recently, on Clancy Strand, Limerick City, this event has been held in the Winter as well, with fires and mulled wine!

Limerick City Biodiversity Network

Initially born as a guerrilla gardening group, this organisation now receives funding from Limerick City Council for landscape enhancements in the form of re-introducing wildflower meadows into the urban fabric of Limerick City.  This group recently organized a public event where communities participated in the creation of a wildflower meadow along the UL riverbank path.  Limerick City Biodiversity Network also assists and advises communities on how to create wildflower meadows.

Dublin City Beta Projects

This is a new approach by Dublin City Council to experiment, innovate and quickly test ideas directly ‘on the street’…but above all, to ask you for your opinion!  They suggest this as a new way of trialling ideas, away from the ‘realities’ or ‘pressures’ of a ‘real’ project. The trials could last days, weeks or months, but generally wouldn’t be longer than a year or so.  Such projects include Dublin Park(ing) Day and interactive urban light works.  An innovative way of testing and receiving feedback for interventions in the urban landscape. Check them out.

Kings of Concrete

This group describes themselves being simply about “Boards, Bikes, Balls and Beats, Paint and Saints..” and that’s really as accurate as it can get.  Over their 7 year existence, this group have changed, morphed and evolved, from street art, to skateboarding, parkour and wakeboarding.  Recently, they were part of the Dublin Tall Ships Festival, curating the urban zone at their new home in Grand Canal Dock.  According to their website, some of Kings of Concrete‘s events included:

  • Wakeboarding/wakeskating
  • Lot’s fun water activities that will mainly involve a lot people getting very wet…always a fun spectacle
  • Permanent pieces on real walls!
  • A floating crazy golf hole
  • A new warehouse space – home to a secret cinema/ retro games room, a ramp and an exhibition….a veritable feast
  • Freedom to run later into dusk and even run a night skate comp

Urban Tree Project

We’ve covered Urban Tree Project before in an interview, but we couldn’t exclude them from this countdown.  The project is a collaborative and participatory process engaging the residents of Castletroy View, artists Deirdre A Power, Jacki Hehir and the N.G.O The Woodland League.  The project endeavours to advocate an educational and participatory program that investigates the value of native trees within an urban context.  Recently, Deirdre and Jacki headed up a Park(ing) Day Limerick 2012. 

Wildroutes

Founded by Mary Conroy, Limerick City based “Wildroutes” is a participatory, urban eco-art project that aims to encourage people to reform public space in their city.  This is done by taking neglected corners of the city and turning them into something alive and even useful.  Interaction with the public included seed bomb workshops and talks on the importance of biophilia and biodiversity in the urban environment.  Recently, Wildroutes took part in DC2 Gentrify This, with the “Grow Your Own Weed Campaign”.

NAMA to Nature

According to their Facebook page “Ireland has over 2000 ghost estates and 300,000 empty dwellings. Rather than watch the government dither and procrastinate let’s help nature take them back.”  Founded by Andrew Legge and Serena Brabazon, the idea originated in Co. Leitrim, but has now splintered into practice through numerous groups all over Ireland.  NAMA to Nature is a restoration and mitigation method against the vandalism occurring on ghost estates, at the same time healing the scars left upon the landscape by the “Boom”.

One Million Trees in One Day

According to their websiteOne Million Trees in One Day is a charity, not-for-profit, cross border, community and environmental initiative which will plant a million young native trees at many different sites across both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland in twenty four hours during late November 2012.   Its true aim however is to establish individual trees and woodlands in both rural and urban areas that will grow for many years and which will provide valuable resources, beneficial ecosystem services and a lasting legacy for future generations.  Given that Ireland’s forest land cover has fallen below 10% (while the European average is 32%), this initiative is not only welcomed, but necessary.

With such a diverse range of groups improving the urban fabric of Ireland’s cities, the future looks bright, even in these dismal days.  Why the future is never certain, what is, however, is the need for more like minded groups such as these.  These groups are ideas and are non-exclusive, anyone can take these ideas up, wherever they are needed.   We need to engage the city, the community, the landscape, each other and ourselves.

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3 responses to “10 Ideas Changing Ireland’s Urban Fabric

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