The Lifeline Story and film
Large parts of Dublin’s long-neglected North West Inner City (NWIC) are derelict with stretches of disused land alongside rail and canal routes, ex-industrial plots and inaccessible brownfield sites. At first sight they look like urban wastelands, pure and simple. But do they represent an opportunity? The Lifeline is a large-scale project-focused network established in 2008 to stimulate the development of a new city quarter devoted to urban ecology, sustainable design & planning, and enhanced levels of health & wellbeing in Dublin’s northwest inner city. The Lifeline Project film by Gregory Dunn documented the Midland Great Western Railway Cutting before its transfer to the Railway Procurement Agency as a location for the Luas Cross City . Research on this site was the catalyst for staking the 'Lifeline Territory' as a concept and long-term strategy. During the 2008 Grangegorman Development Agency Public Consultations, community needs were expressed: 50% green space to be retained, pocket parks (community gardens, allotments) a car free campus, access to campus facilities/activity, exemplarly sustainable design, public transport to service 20,000 commuting to campus and increased opportunities for life-long learning and exercise. In 2009 Kaethe Burt-O’Dea developed the Lifeline Proposal to respond to these local needs, beginning a 5 year research programme in collaboration with Dublin Institute of Technology. In 2010, Desireland launched the Lifeline at a public symposium, ‘Introducing the Lifeline,’ held the Light House Cinema, Smithfield. This event was organised in collaboration with DIT Students ‘Learning with Communities Programme’ and funded by DIT and the Environmental Protection Agency. Presentations were given by Desireland, Dublin City Council, the Grangegorman Development Agency, The Railway Procurement Agency, Dr. Austin O’Carroll, Paddy Woodsworth, Gerry Clabby of Fingal County Council, DIT students and keynote speaker and Environmental Engineer Dr. Hein Van Bohemen of Delpht Institute of Technology, NL and DIT. The 2010 working session established the core objectives of the Lifeline, which have since been applied and tested over a five-year process of multi-disciplinary action research under Dublin Institute of Technology’s Students Learning with Communities Programme. Significantly, this learning will now be applied in a system of thematic micro-projects that will engage the public in the ground-up development of green infrastructure. Citizen science will be used to disseminate the core principles of the Lifeline: to reframe our attitudes toward waste, promote wellbeing and preventative health strategies and establish a new approach to urban design. By these means the Lifeline will act as an umbrella initiative, housing multiple projects across a projected ten-year period. To begin this process we declared 2015 the year of the bee and launched Lifeline Project Bí. According to the European Federation of Landscape Architecture, the integration of transport infrastructure and green infrastructure through innovative strategies will be a critical objective in future urban design. The Lifeline will work in tandem with, and add value to, the investment Dublin Institute of Technology, the Health Service Executive and the Railway Procurement Agency are transforming the NWIC through their redevelopment of the St. Brendan’s Hospital site in Dublin 7 into a state-of –the-art campus and exemplar in sustainable design. Through a long-term process of citizen engagement the Lifeline will generate research to support the development of Irish Environmental Policy and the European policies that drive it. This ground up initiative aims to create a flow of biodiversity from the Botanic Gardens to the Liffey as a living laboratory where the citizens of Dublin's Northwest Inner city can map and measure the value of re-partnering with nature in the urban environment.