Ballyfermot Leisure and Youth CentreEdit profile
The site for the project is located along the southern edge of LeFanu Park, a public park in the west Dublin suburb of Ballyfermot. The park is bordered on one side by the ragged backside of the main street buildings and by two-storey inner city suburban houses on the other three. The existing pool was hidden from the main street of Ballyfermot being located in the middle of the site and by the 1990’s had fallen into disrepair. Le Fanu Park is an extensive and well-used public park; however, it too had poor visibility from the main street without an identifiable or significant entrance. Our primary aim was to consolidate the public domain through the placement of the two buildings describing a new public space and marking a new entrance into Dublin City Council’s Le Fanu Park. We were aware of the different client base | programme – and therefore expectations – between the two buildings with the leisure centre being a large scaled general public building for all ages and the youth centre clearly for a teenage audience with a more intensely packed brief. The gestures in the leisure centre are more sweeping and operate at the scale of a sports hall; whereas, this challenge resonated in the more dense youth centre in a finer particulate design with the moves operating at a much smaller scale.
In the leisure centre, the site levels are such as to allow the civic space, community rooms, entrances and the pool hall to be at the level of Blackditch Road; while the sports hall, changing rooms, fitness gym and five-a-side are all at the level of Le Fanu Park. The resulting cross section defines the leisure building, resolving issues of orientation and programme - sunlight into the changing area but controlled in the pool hall, access to pitches, etc. The sports hall reads as an open topped and elevated concrete box which overlaps over the entrance foyer. The concrete box presents deliberate spatial pressure on the pool hall creating a vertical slot of space with northern and southern glazed elements. The foyer is also glazed at low level to the pool hall to generate transparency deep into the building and has the main staircase – a shaped and weighty concrete form – leading up to the sports hall, fitness gym, changing rooms and five-a-side pitches.
The youth centre and crèche building is more intimate and particular. The design intent is predicated primarily on the use of colour + furniture to determine character. This building steps along its length as the site slopes up to the west – offsetting the crèche from the youth centre. The youth centre is focused on a south facing café. The other key activities are distributed off the café space and include a fully sound-proofed recording studio, art facilities, multi-media / computer graphics lab and mezzanine counselling rooms.