East of Cork’s city centre, adjacent to the river Lee, lies Marina Park. This 35-ha park functions as a catalyst for the city development in the surrounding formal industrial areas. In 2014, together with REDSCAPE, OKRA won the competition for a plan for the entire park area. For the execution this plan has been divided up into 3 separate park areas for which OKRA has made the designs. Phase 1, the most urban oriented, has been completed in 2022. In the upcoming years phase 2 and the promenade along the river Lee will be transformed as well, creating one unified park with a wide range of atmospheres of unprecedented scale for the city, and fulfilling the promise of a large park in this area that has been unfulfilled for many decades.
As the entire park in its entirety encompasses the Páirc Uí Chaoimh, the westernmost first phase of the park functions as a conjunction between the historic city, the planned expansions around the park, the natural area east, and the multifunctional event space of the stadium. Because of this situation, it has become a particularly urban park area, with a very clear and graphical appearance.
Phase one is situated on a former brownfield site, consisting of mostly derelict showground buildings, a Gaelic sports stadium and a run-down natural zone – thus creating a challenging context for a well-planned coherent park. OKRA’s design provides a landscape solution for urban adaptation by creating space for the temporary storage of increased or extreme rainfall events and rising sea levels. The water theme is the backbone of the park, integrating the natural wetland areas with the social gathering and event areas. OKRA’s integrated approach to landscape, water engineering, and the social and cultural heritage results in a well-balanced park that transforms the contextual challenges of temporary water storage into one of the park’s main features.
The majority of the first phase area has a specific function as water buffer, controlling the potential flood risk that would be problematic for the city under adverse circumstances. This buffer is a core prerequisite for the possibility to develop the site adjacent to the park into dense new residential neighbourhoods, as envisioned by the city. What on normal days appears to be an extensive lawn, can also function as interconnected water basins.
At the heart between those, Different pathways meet, creating an expansive yet inviting triangular platform with a continuous surface. Because of the materialisation chosen, it has already become a favourite for people cycling, skating and doing other types of exercise. On this platform the central hall can be found . This is a bold new structure, reminiscent of the historical industrial heritage at the site and at the same time symbol of the redevelopment. The new coffee house with terrace here has made it a central meeting point for visitors, as well as an attractive area for events and sports, making it into a natural public extension of the nearby multifunctional stadium. Next to the hall there are gardens, flanked by benches, as wel as a large water feature: the first one of its kind in the area. This combination results in a lively square that attracts a diversity of people.
In the upcoming years the following phases will be executed. With a stronger focus on ecology and heritage, as well as a diverse programme of functions and features, it will further complete the park into an attractive place for all seasons.
Client: Cork City Council
Area: 35 ha
Collaboration: REDSCAPE, OCSC, Howley Hayes
Other landscape architecture offices involved in the design of landscape:
Redscape in vision phase
Architecture offices involved in the design (if any):
Photo: Jason Gairn