Ballina community project shortlisted for prestigious new EU prize

Counted among just 61 shortlisted from over 1,450 applications, the competition highlights ‘beautiful, sustainable and inclusive projects’ from all across the EU and Western Balkan States.
Ballina community project shortlisted for prestigious new EU prize

Kenneth Fox

A community project to mitigate climate change in Ballina has been shortlisted for a prestigious New European Bauhaus prize.

Counted among just 61 shortlisted from over 1,450 applications, the competition highlights ‘beautiful, sustainable and inclusive projects’ from all across the EU and Western Balkan States.

The New European Bauhaus (NEB) is a creative and interdisciplinary initiative that connects the European Green Deal to EU citizens’ living spaces and experiences.

The final winners of the competition will be decided by public online vote (closing date May 24th) and jury selection, and announced in Brussels on June 22nd, 2023.

The Ripple project was funded under the Government of Ireland ‘Creative Ireland’ programme, with support from Mayo County Council, and was coordinated between Ballina Green Towns, UCD Centre for Irish Towns, local artist Rionach Ní Néill, and the community of Greenhills Estate, Ballina.

Member of the Ripple project team from UCD School of Civil Engineering, Dr Sarah Cotterill said: “We’re delighted that Ripple has been shortlisted as a finalist in the 2023 New European Bauhaus Prizes.

"The impact of climate change will be felt by every community in Ireland, but individuals can feel disconnected if they can’t see a clear path to what they can do personally to effect change.

"Ripple aimed to show how local initiatives can be a meaningful solution to a global challenge, by focusing on managing water in a housing estate.

"It was a hugely collaborative project, looking at how we could transform the underused green space — which is so common in housing estates all over Ireland — to become more climate resilient and socially cohesive places.”

Community empowerment

Independent councillor for Mayo County Council, Mark Duffy said: “The Ripple project has been a real success story in community empowerment. The team was able to build upon the work of the residents' biodiversity group to deliver a fantastic community-owned amenity which was voted on by the residents as their favourite option.

“It shows the positive outcomes that can be achieved when communities are included in the decision making process. Thanks to the residents of Greenhills for their participation, Mayo County Council for their support and the Ripple team for delivering this project which has received international recognition through this shortlisting.”

Ripple was one of 15 projects supported by the first Creative Ireland Climate Action Call.

The aim was to trial a collaborative place-based approach to climate resilient green space in towns, with a specific focus on water.

The project team worked with the local community in an inclusive co-design process, beginning by developing a set of tools that could be scaled up for application in other communities in Ireland and beyond.

The 200 residents of Ballina Greenhills Estate voted for the ‘Paradise Garden’ out of 16 potential ideas to develop.

Using a neglected green space within the estate, the project created a climate friendly intergenerational amenity and haven for wildlife, featuring a tree nursery for local oaks, heritage fruit trees, vegetable beds, pollinator friendly planting, and nature based play.

Rainwater is conserved by slowing its flow through a series of rills, wells and natural attenuation features in the garden on its way to the local River Brusna.

Director of UCD Centre for Irish Towns and project team member, Assistant Professor Orla Murphy said: “It is hugely significant to see the Ripple project internationally recognised as one of the NEB Prizes finalists.

"The project brings together climate action related to water, neighbourhood green spaces and local communities and shows that collaboration can really make a positive tangible impact in a short space of time.

“Ripple is a tangible example of engaged and trans-disciplinary research, bringing together architecture, engineering, art practice and landscape architecture in a participatory model to co-design climate resilient places that are beautiful, inclusive and sustainable."

Contributors to the project included various experts, local stakeholders and businesses, including landscape architect Roisin Byrne, the Karen Community Garden, Ballina, ecologist Martin McGarrigle, Kilcross Construction, Shaws Garden Centre, ABC of Gardening, Alan Merdith Studio Joinery, and St Muredach’s Secondary School, Ballina.

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