Call to design eco-lab for Cork city amenity

A call has gone out seeking people to design a new structure for the 170-acre Tramore Valley Park. MARILYN LENNON and SEAN TAYLOR of The Kinship Project tell us more
Call to design eco-lab for Cork city amenity

Artists Lennon Taylor (Marilyn Lennon and Seán Taylor) of The KinShip Project, at Tramore Valley Park, Cork. Picture: Darragh Kane

THE KinShip EcoLab Open Call Competition invites submissions to design and build an experimental and innovative temporary structure of architectural importance for Tramore Valley Park.

The competition Call Out gives architects, artists, designers, eco-builders, and crafts-people the challenge of creating a temporary open architectural shelter incorporating ecological materials and techniques. When finished, The KinShip EcoLab will provide a gathering place, a meeting or stopping point for walks, or a resting point for talks or demonstrations, all focused on the concept of kinship in this new public park.

For those who haven’t yet visited Tramore Valley Park, it is Cork city’s largest public park at approximately 170 acres. It officially opened in 2019 on land reclaimed from Cork City’s Old Kinsale Road Landfill site (1964-2009).

The park continues to be home to a Civic Amenity Site/Recycling Centre. Within it is a large expanse of low-lying wetland, known as Carroll’s Bog. The park is bounded to the north and east by the Trabeg River, and on the south by the Tramore River.

While you might be there to visit the playing pitches or the scooter park, look closer and you’ll notice the new terrain hosts a growing biodiverse park life.

The EcoLab Open Call Competition is just one element of The KinShip project, a durational public artwork at Tramore Valley Park led by artists Marilyn Lennon and Sean Taylor in partnership with Cork City Council, funded by Creative Ireland’s Creative Climate Action Fund. Other project partners include Cork Nature Network, Cork Healthy Cities, Munster Technical University, University College Cork, UNESCO Cork Learning Cities. The Creative Climate Action Fund supports creative projects which can meaningfully connect people with profound changes happening in our environment, society and economy arising from climate change in Ireland.

In The KinShip Project, ‘kinship’ refers to a change of thinking about our relationship to nature. The project aims to start a creative public conversation about how we as an urban community can begin to develop shared values around climate action.

For instance, the artist’s LennonTaylor suggest that: “We can start by using creativity to restore a lost connection with nature. We need to change our habits, and in order to change our habits we need to see ourselves as an interconnected part of the wider community of life, not separate from nature. The KinShip project is asking us to re-establish a caring relationship with the array of living things that inhabit Tramore Valley Park. This is one way to begin to address and overcome the existential threat of climate change. If we can do this, it may be possible to finally see ourselves as part of the solution and not necessarily part of the problem. We may begin to individually and collectively change the narrative of climate action from passive observance to active response”.

As one part of a whole range of creative and public activities in the KinShip project, the EcoLab competition will focus on eco-friendly and cost-effective building techniques to set an example of green building practice in Ireland and beyond. The entries will encourage a conversation about material provenance, construction practices, and the role of architecture in the greater climate change debate. The artists believe that even temporary structures can inspire us to act. The winning design has to be pragmatic and easily constructible, with the hope that local communities may be able to participate, where possible, in the construction process.

The open call involves a two-stage process. The first stage is a pre-qualification and expression of interest stage. Applicants will be required to submit details of their track record designing and building architectural structures, preferably with ecological materials and processes. The deadline for submissions is March 29.

Applications will then be shortlisted based on a competitive assessment of first stage submissions. Successful shortlisted applicants will be notified by April 11.

The second stage will involve a dialogue between The KinShip EcoLab jury and the shortlisted applicants prior to the submission of a final proposal.

One design team will be selected by the jury. The jury will adjudicate the applications based on creativity in use of materials, provision of shelter, poetics of assembly and form, starting place for a tour/talk/workshop, integration with the landscape of the park, and ease of construction. The winning design team will construct the Ecolab commencing early Summer 2022. On completion, there will be a programme of activities to launch The KinShip EcoLab.

Further information and details on the EcoLab competition can be found at

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