Dún Laoghaire is characterised by a separation between the Town Centre and its Waterfront which is the primary amenity that gives the area its unique sense of place. This separation is caused by the Dart Commuter train line which is in a deep cut and by the surrounding road network which serves traffic at the expense of pedestrians. The Dún Laoghaire County Development Plan sets out a vision whereby the Town Centre and the Waterfront will be reconnected by creating an expanded and revitalised public realm between both. The key client brief for this project was to fulfill this objective.
The Metals Project, Phase 1 completed in November 2011, has fulfilled this objective. It has created a major new public space by covering over and enclosing the railway cutting and provides a model for the reuse of space over transport infrastructure. It has also created revitalised and attractive linkages between the Town and its Waterfront by reclaiming excess and unused road width for pedestrians. The project has also created a new civic space for the Town that provides a new setting for County Hall. The project, by creatively facilitating the use of the space by adjacent restaurants and businesses, has become a successful catalyst for the ongoing rejuvenation of the area.
Understanding that human interaction and activity is the essence and the making of successful public places, the Metals Project, Phase 1, seeks to attract and encourage people of all ages to linger by providing for a variety of activities - generous areas for walking, places for sitting and eating, a small playground for children and an area for civic events. The project is carefully scaled and detailed to create a distinct character and this is emphasised by a rich palette of materials, colours and finishes. Planting is used both for its sensory value across changing seasons and to create a pleasant and sheltered microclimate specific to its context.