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Friday, 5th July 2024

Official opening of ‘The Still’ and the Varcities project in Dundalk

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 The Varcities project in Dundalk being launched by Cathaoirleach of Louth County Council, Cllr. Kevin Callan.

The Dundalk pilot for an ambitious research project co-funded by the EU‘s Horizon 2020 programme and Louth County Council, Varcities, was launched earlier this week by the Council’s Cathaoirleach Kevin Callan, and Chief Executive Joan Martin at a special event held in the North Louth town’s Museum Quarter.

Varcities places people at the centre of urban development and is a five-year initiative where seven ‘pilot cities’ test and implement a series of innovative nature-based actions to promote health and wellbeing.

Louth County Council have been liaising with stakeholders in the development of three ‘Visionary Solutions’: the creation of an ‘Outdoor Learning Pod’; a regenerated Outdoor Urban Green Learning space and a Sensory Garden.

The Varcities Green Learning is aimed at fostering inclusivity and enhancing well-being for all. By incorporating a variety of sensory elements such as textures, colours, scents, and sounds, the new garden caters to individuals of all abilities and sensory preferences.

A significant feature of the Dundalk project is the relocation of staff car parking spaces to provide increased public space, and reduce climate exposure, noise and air pollution and environmental stress. It will also feature sensor-equipped covered bike-stations.

The improved outdoor space will be known as: ‘The Still’ which will provide a venue for use by all, and the name honours the heritage of this area as an old whiskey distillery, blending history with tranquillity. This unique name reflects both the distillation process and the calm, contemplative atmosphere of the garden. It's a tribute to the past, transforming an industrial site into a peaceful, reflective sanctuary.

The project includes a unique Health and Well-being platform which will be showcased on the site's interactive touchscreen. This new platform harnesses real-time data sourced from on-site sensors, offering dynamic graphical representations of site data including noise levels, air quality indices, carbon emissions, energy consumption and the monetary savings generated by the Museum's solar (PV) panels.

An additional and exciting feature of the Varcities project is the new Sensory Cubbie located inside the library. This offers an immersive multi-sensory space that reduces anxiety and encourages participation. Louth County Council also collaborated with technical partner Darek on the development of a 3D immersive ‘GoNature’ game, a virtual reality experience developed for the seven pilot sites. It promotes learning on the benefits of the Visionary Solutions implemented and will soon be available for download on the Apple App Store and Google Play.

Launching the Dundalk Varcities project Chief Executive of Louth County Council, Joan Martin, said: “The regeneration of this part of Dundalk will assist in the creation of a diverse, accessible, safe, inclusive and high–quality area that will increase health and well-being and deliver a sustainable urban space. It is wonderful to see the heritage of the town honoured as part of this project, with a former industrial site transformed into a peaceful, reflective sanctuary.”

For more information on the Dundalk Varcities project click here: https://varcities.eu/pilot-cities/dundalk-ireland/

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