Cois Abhann Liffey Vale Biodiversity Centre

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Liffey Vale House (a Georgian House and Protected Structure) is situated on the northern banks of the River Liffey at Longmeadows along the Chapelizod Road. The house and gardens, which are derelict, are in the ownership of Dublin City Council, and are currently inaccessible to the public. The Parks Department recently appointed a design team led by Blackwood Associates to develop and oversee the implementation of proposals for the regeneration of this important structure and surrounding grounds. They have to date been carrying out a range of surveys to gain a deeper understanding of the site as well as engaging in consultation with a wide range of stakeholders. The surveys and discussions have allowed us to develop draft proposals for an exciting new biodiversity/ecological centre at Liffey Vale.

Site Extents and Adjacent Sites

Concept:

It is proposed that Liffey Vale House and its associated grounds are to be developed as an exemplar centre for best practice biodiversity and re-wilding. The site will offer the opportunity for all to spend time in nature, and learn about the animals, plants, and ecological systems that thrive in close proximity to the city. Using the principles of sustainable management of the landscape and sustainable conservation of an historic building the site will be open for the public to enjoy. The house and gardens will intertwine to form one unique experience of nature with learning opportunities throughout.

Liffey Vale House will include interpretation on biodiversity, a multi-purpose learning space (large enough for school groups) a small café and associated public toilets. The approach to the design is to respect the existing scale of the house and its relationship to the site. Small new additions adjacent to the house being complementary in scale and sympathetic to the original structure. In the interior of the house, we will retain traces of the historic features; floors and fireplaces that have been lost over the years. The building will tell stories as well as provide the setting for stories to be told.

The interpretive designers will work closely with the rest of the team to capture the richness of the natural history of the site and encourage curiosity in visitors of all ages and abilities. They will make use of audio-visual techniques within the building, and materials that appeal to all the senses and create a natural flow for visitors to move through the house.

The building at Liffey Vale once accommodated a family who tended a garden and orchard along the River Liffey’s edge. Today, the lands are home to multiple habitats containing a range of species who moved into the damp walls, the overgrown orchard and adapted to life along the water’s edge. Here each living plant and creature live in mutual symbiosis, each playing out a miniscule, hushed yet intensely dramatic lifecycle.

Biodiversity affords us our own circle of life by providing clean air to breath, water to drink, food to eat - a sensitive, interdependent ecosystem that we must understand and protect. Liffey Vale will demonstrate how human hands can delicately manage and rewild the once manicured area of Liffey Vale, guiding nature along its natural course to welcome diverse habitats and species.

The site of Liffey Vale will embed itself within the locality, becoming an eye-opening and culturally relevant stop on a daily walk or weekend cycles. It will reawaken locals to the interconnectedness of the Liffey corridor and natural surroundings, renewing lost understanding and connectedness of the world around them while re-enforcing wellbeing and calm. Greater awareness will impact on homelife, bringing green issues to the dinner table, influencing decisions and changing behaviours into the future.

The ground will open onto a series of paths which will be provided to allow universal access through a range of natural features, including woodland, wetland, the river edge etc. A range of interpretative methods will be used to inform and guide while a significant area of the site will be left inaccessible and wild.

Re-wilding is the key theme for the outdoor experience. Over the coming months our expert team of ecologists, archaeologists and bio-diversity experts will work to create optimal conditions for flora and fauna to grow as it would have over a hundred years ago. This will be a carefully managed process to ensure that more modern greenery doesn’t dominate the landscape.

Next Steps:

We are now seeking your input and response to our ideas for the site. You can respond with your thoughts via email to parks@dublincity.ie or go to https://consultation.dublincity.ie/parks/cois-abhann-liffey-vale-biodiversity-centre to complete an online questionnaire. We will develop further the design once we’ve received your input before progressing further with the planning process later this year. All going well we would begin works on site in mid 2021.

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