On Friday 16th May, Cork City Council officially re-opened the The 'Mardyke Gardens' at Fitzgerald's Park. The project was designed and created by Cunnane Stratton Reynolds and delivers a refreshing new take on traditional recreational pursuits associated with Fitzgerald's Park - musical performance, horticultural display and social gathering – all combined in two key design areas of the park namely, 'The Front Lawn' along Mardyke Walk, and 'The Gallery Garden' which overlooks the River Lee.
The Front Lawn provides a new setting for outdoor musical and theatrical performance with a stunning contemporary pavilion, The Lawn Pavilion, and sunken lawn space. The adjacent museum building has a new entrance plaza while the main entrance to the park has been upgraded to provide a new arrival area adjacent to the Lord Mayors Lodge.
The Gallery Garden is a new park destination, a multi-functional garden setting in which to meet, relax and enjoy a range of horticultural displays while availing of refreshments from the park cafe, now incorporated into the garden. The garden displays trees and shrubs from Diarmuid Gavin's award winning 'Sky Garden'. The 'Pod' from the Sky Garden has also been adapted as a viewing platform overlooking the River Lee providing spectacular views up and down the river. The garden also includes a play space for young children, a garden canopy for smaller scale performances and exhibitions and a central display of reflective stainless steel spheres and domes which reflect the surrounding garden elements and changing weather patterns.
Design concepts for the project have been informed by the heritage and history of the park and notably its function as home for the International Exhibition of 1902 which showcased emerging technologies and industries of that period. In a similar vein the new Mardyke Gardens provide an expose of excellence in horticulture, outdoor entertainment and recreation – interpreted and presented in a contemporary and engaging manner.
Traditional elements of the park have been given due consideration which has seen specialist conservation and restoration techniques brought to bear in restoring the fountain in the parks pond which dates from the 1902 Exhibition.
The project is 80% funded by Failte Ireland under its Tourism Product Development Scheme and is part of a major new programme to develop a world class horticultural tourist trail linking the Mardyke Gardens with gardens at University College Cork, Fota Arboretum and Gardens, Blarney Castle Gardens and a number of private gardens. The Mardyke Gardens will integrate with existing recreational amenities such as riverside and other walkways within the city which have been created to allow visitors and Corkonians alike to view the city and to easily access garden, cultural and other attractions. It will also add to the horticultural, park and amenity offering of the greater metropolitan area, such as Fota House, Ballincollig Regional Park and the Carragaline/Crosshaven Walkway.
The project was developed by the following client and design team members:-
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