Urban Greening

Michal Slawski on the importance of The Green Cities Parklet at Bord Bia Bloom.

The Green Cities Europe campaign, co-funded by the European Union, actively encourages Irish local authorities, developers, planners and architects to work with local growers to incorporate as much green space as possible into building projects and redevelopments.

As part of Bord Bia Bloom 2023, the campaign collaborated on The Green Cities Parklet, a concept streetscape to promote design and innovation which encourages greening in even the tightest spaces of our towns and inner cities. The designed parklet used repurposed materials. After the Bord Bia Bloom festival it was recycled and incorporated into active inner-city green projects by Dublin City Council.

The concept for The Green Cities Parklet was devised by Daibhí MacDomhnaill of Áit Urbanism + Landscape. Daibhí is a landscape architect and urban designer with a specialist interest in urban greening, nature-based solutions and future-proofing cities for climate change.

Daibhí was joined on the design team by Deirdre Prince, landscape architect with Dublin City Council Parks, Biodiversity and Landscape Services; Gary Graham, interim manager of the Association of Landscape Contractors of Ireland; and Barry Lupton, business development manager at O’Brien Landscaping.

Michal Slawski, a sector manager in horticulture at Bord Bia, commented: “Our vision is for nature to share space with the built environment. Density in our towns and cities demands that we step up to the challenges to embrace green spaces as integral parts of urban life – for people and for biodiversity.

“Urbanisation and climate change call for new solutions to maintain and improve the quality of life in our cities. Public green space has a positive effect on biodiversity, climate, wellness and air quality. Urban greening will ensure that our towns and cities are better places to live and work.

“The Green Cities Parklet is not what you would normally expect from a show garden at Bord Bia Bloom. We’ve taken a regular street with paving and a bus stop, and crafted a space meant to be enjoyed by commuters, local families and bees alike.

“Bord Bia is delighted to be working on this campaign in Ireland on behalf of the Irish Hardy Nursery Stock Association (IHNSA), and would like to thank the Association of Landscape Contractors of Ireland (ALCI) for their collaboration on the parklet, Daibhí MacDomhnaill of Áit Urbanism + Landscape for the design, Dublin City Council for their crucial support, O’Briens Landscaping for the installation, and finally Tully Nurseries, Annaveigh Plants, and Summerhill Lawns for the plants.”

Val Farrell, President of IHNSA, welcomed the opportunity to highlight local growers and Irish-produced plants, saying:

“I grew up on a small farm myself and was always in the ground as a kid. As someone with a passion for plants, it has been my life’s work to ensure that everyone has access to green spaces, whether they live out in the country or in the middle of Dublin city.

“It is vital that we embrace greening of the places where people live as well as go to work, and as chair of the IHNSA, I am very proud to say that the quality of the plants available through our network of growers in Ireland is second to none for every scale of building project. It’s important that we embed Irish planting into all building developments from a liveability and tourism point of view, and also because it economically supports local growers in rural areas across Ireland.”

Deirdre Prince, landscape architect with Dublin City Council Parks, Biodiversity and Landscape Services, welcomed the streetscape style design at Bord Bia Bloom 2023, saying: “A green city is a healthy city! Creating green spaces for both biodiversity and recreational use has benefits for the city’s sustainability and attractiveness as a place to live, work and visit. As Dublin city intensifies and consolidates, some natural assets, open spaces and recreational areas may come under increased pressure.”

Gary Graham, interim manager of ALCI, said: “This parklet showcases how we can create, manage, and grow green spaces in our towns and cities. It is a space for biodiversity with a safe, accessible and inclusive design and layout that serves to connect the community with horticulture. ALCI members are responsible for the creation and care of many of the great and important green spaces across the country: public realm, commercial and private/domestic gardens.” ✽

MICHAL SLAWSKI is sector manager of horticulture at Bord Bia, with responsibility for mushrooms and export development. He has been with Bord Bia for more than ten years. He has a Masters in Project Finance and Venture Management from National University of Ireland, Maynooth.