Co-creating Natural and Social Resilience

LocationBallina, Co. Mayo, Ireland
Site3,118 m2
ClientFlow Community Project/Ballina Community Clean Up

Collaboration for inclusion

The design for the Ballina Sensory Park is the outcome of a collaborative co-design process that included community groups, autism and sensory needs specialists, users and the local authority. Located in the existing Tom Ruane Park, the aim is to provide a facility to support the needs of people with who are neurodivergent while providing a welcoming space for all that also adds nature value. The Design incorporates a series of ‘Sensory 'Room’s’ with differing atmospheres to cater for a diversity of sensory requirements. Features, surfaces, objects, and plants that stimulate the senses through play, touch, sight, scent, taste, and hearing are distributed throughout.

Jonathan Stoltz
Sensory Atmospheres

Jonathan Stoltz

Perceived Sensory Dimensions

Characteristics Of A Space

Meeting diverse sensory needs

To meet visitors' sensory needs, the park is design around a series of 'sensory rooms', each corresponding to a specific sensory dimension. These room are dispersed across zones categorized as open, semi-sheltered, and sheltered areas. The rooms act as connected nodes, each with its own functions and purpose. The open room welcomes visitors at the entrance and invites them to explore other rooms - social, cultural, serene, diverse, cohesive, natural, and sheltered. The variety of experiences make the sensory park a place where everyone can find something to satisfy their needs.

Entering with clear expectations

The entrance to the park is designed as an open space that gives users an overview and sense of orientation. This is particularly important for those who may be apprehensive about exploring the park for the first time. A Social Story is developed to support users to become familiar with the park and a map showing the different destinations within the park is inlayed into the ground.

Spaces for engagement

Some of the rooms are designed to be engaging, social and cultural. These provide opportunities for interaction, creative play and diverse stimulation.

Space for introspection

Some of the rooms are designed to be sheltered, peaceful and meditative. These provide opportunities for reflection, individual play and decompression.

Planting for people and nature

On a site that was originally lawn, the design aims to add nature value to the park with the use of native species and pollinator and bird friendly plants. These plants also support in the reduction of water runoff into the River Moy. As spaces are divided into open, semi-sheltered and sheltered areas with planting reflect this being divided into engaging, calming and naturalistic zones respectively. The park is filled with flowers, wild grasses and edible herbs, designed to blossom and bloom with variety and colour across the season. This approach ensures a distinct experience each time a user visits the park.

Sections AA and BB

Sections CC and DD

Zone 1 Plant Portraits

Zone 2 Plant Portraits

Zone 3 Plant Portraits

Seasonal Palette Engaging Zone

Seasonal Palette Calming Zone

Seasonal Palette Naturalistic Zone


Concept Design
  • Yanling Mo
  • Inna Stryzhak
  • Liling Martin
  • James McConville
  • Kevin Loftus
  • Linda Nilsson
Detailed Design
  • Kevin Loftus
  • Yanling Mo
  • Inna Stryzhak


Civil Engineer
  • MFA
Landscape Architect
  • CSR