LeFanu Park is a large underused public park one block behind Ballyfermot Road, the area’s bustling, but traffic-dominated, shopping artery. And yet it seems a world away, only really coming alive at weekends, when the football pitches throb with activity. The connections between Ballyfermot’s two main civic assets are not as strong as they might be. In part, this is because the park, which faces south towards the foothills of the Dublin mountains, is elevated a full storey above its surroundings.
“The park had no entrance or identity,” says Michael McGarry. “There was a swimming pool at its edge but it was hardly visible, and it was attracting anti-social behaviour. There was an impetus at the time to upgrade basic 1970s pools that had no other amenities,” he says. Among the Dublin City Council facilities that were developed under this initiative are the Markievicz Leisure Centre at Townsend Street, new sports and fitness centres at Finglas, Ballymun and Rathmines, and Irishtown Stadium.
“There was very little sense of civic space,” says McGarry. “We wanted the project to be visible from the junction of Ballyfermot Road and LeFanu Road. And we wanted to make an entrance to the park as part of the project.” The long narrow site has a serpentine frontage onto Blackditch Road but is otherwise orthogonal. The brief called for two buildings – a large 4,000sqm community sports and leisure facility, and the Base Youth Centre, one quarter that size.
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