Design Competition
Airlie Park is the result of over 17 years of research, design and construction for the landscape architects, DFLA. The park owes its genesis to Foley & Salles Landscape Architects, a creative collaboration between Irish Landscape Architect Dermot Foley (DFLA) and French Landscape Architect Remi Salles, who won a prestigious international design competition in 2007. At approximately 11 hectares, Airlie Park is the flagship park for Adamstown, a Strategic Development Zone (SDZ) west of Dublin city.

Airlie Park is open to the public 24 hours a day and caters for both active and passive pursuits with a particular emphasis on sporting activities. At the heart of the park lies a central spine, an axis of movement and energy running east-west, organising and anchoring the park’s active components including a full-size All-Weather GAA and soccer pitch, cricket oval with practice nets and wickets, tennis courts, informal basketball court and a pavilion building which incorporates a small café and changing facilities designed by Coady Architects. Additionally there are three large natural play areas for all ages and abilities, where children can lose themselves in the joy of discovery.

Composition & Adaptation
From the initial drawings on paper in 2007 for the design competition to the park today, the plan composition has evolved and adapted over 16 years to a changing programme, topography and surrounding urban fabric. The layout is strongly determined by the requirements of large sports surfaces to be broadly flat, but also by a contrasting grid of trees. Both work with flatness, by demanding it and enforcing it in the case of the sports programme, and by drawing attention to it and exploiting it spatially in the case of the tree grid.

The grid of over 600 native oak and hawthorn trees, inspired by the pre-existing hedgerows on the site, offers a delicate and malleable counterpoint to the fixed requirements of the sports facilities. The grid has something of the straightness and the flatness of the sports objects but, by its nature, it will evolve with complexity to subsume those very characteristics. It crafts interstitial spaces between the sports objects and the trees for users to enjoy in a range of ways e.g. kickabout, rest, picnic, play, etc.

Biodiversity, Sustainability & Cost
The park features pre-existing elements, which are central to the success of the park. The western boundary of the park is comprised of water and wetland features using the existing stream as the water source and providing a complex array of habitat types for educational and aesthetic purposes. Elsewhere in the park an alignment of mature pine trees stand sentinel near the pavilion building and the rare Hypericum hirsutum (Hairy St. John’s Wort), discovered during construction, is preserved in-situ within the parks boundaries.

With the project budget concentrated on the sports facilities and pavilion building, the remainder of the parks required a considered cost-efficient design. Hard landscape surfaces feature a simple palette of affordable, locally sources materials. Concrete from the former agricultural yard was broken up, lifted and re-laid as informal routes through grass areas. The site levels were carefully adjusted to incorporate all subsoil within the design, ensuring no spoil was moved off-site.

The park’s lush greenery is achieved through extensive seeding – lawns, wildflower meadows and robust rye grass for sports areas. An array of mowing regimes will ensure the landscape adapts to use, local conditions and maximising biodiversity.

Since opening in November 2023, this exciting new park is a major resource for the evolving ecology & biodiversity of the the Adamstown SDZ as well as providing much-needed social, recreational and sports facilities for the new residential community, schools and sports clubs.

Other landscape architecture offices involved in the design of landscape: Foley & Salles Landscape Architects

Architecture offices involved in the design: Coady Architects

Location: Airlie Park, Adamstown, Dublin, Ireland

Design year: 2007-2023

Year Completed: 2023


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