The Sanctuary Biodiversity Field.

The Sanctuary – Biodiversity Field & Labyrinth

In the heart of Stoneybatter, north Dublin, Sr. Stan Kennedy founded The Sanctuary in 1998. The Sanctuary is a meditation centre inspired by Sr. Stan’s own personal practice of contemplation and meditation. Her faith and practice give her the strength to continue her work with homeless people and other social innovations. The Sanctuary offers much to individuals and schools, carers and those working on the frontlines, and commercial teams through its mindfulness programs and practices.

Roisin Byrne, Nature-based landscape architecture, was appointed in 2020 to design a biodiversity garden in the field connected to the Sanctuary grounds. The brief was to create ‘a place, which is good for nature, and which we can use, in lots of different ways, simple, no big structures’

We discussed how the gardens might be used, and ideas included mindful walking, contemplative sitting, outdoor yoga or other group work and possible events, such as Culture Night.

So the design for the gardens really began with the new bespoke labyrinth garden. The labyrinth was intuitively designed, leaning on our research of ancient labyrinth design to more contemporary design to deeply understand the viscerally felt geometries deliberately designed into labyrinths. We wanted to understand how to create these paths and the intention behind them. Labyrinths have been used in so many ways throughout history for prayer, meditation, healing, and celebration. Our intention in creating the sanctuary labyrinth was to support the Sanctuary ethos “offering a place of contemplative practice, developing compassion for ourselves and wider society.”  We intend that this labyrinth is open enough to allow healing, prayer, celebration and for deeply mindful walks by people on their journey through life.

Compassion can be extended to nature too. We wanted to do this in the Sanctuary ‘Biodiversity Field’ Using the Nature-based solution principle ‘net gain for nature’. We selected organic pollinator-friendly perennials and organic heritage Irish apples. We allowed natural regeneration of the meadows and selected locally sourced materials, upcycled materials and finely crafted furniture created from storm blown oak. The visitor is emersed in a sensory journey where nature’s vitality is experienced. 

Gardens complete.

Collaborators – Roisin Byrne Nature-Based Landscape Architecture would like to thank:

The Sanctuary Team, for vision and compassion for nature and society Jane Negrych, John Robinson, Sile Wall, Sr. Stan Kennedy, Gary Graham.

Peter O’Brien’s Landscaping Ltd., for amazing work during Covid 19 challenges. Ciaran O’Brien, brilliant to work with as always, Barry and Lauris and his team.

Caherhulery Organic Nursery: For years of care in their production of organic pollinator-friendly plants. Gert and Elizabeth Stam

Irish Seed Savers Association, For stewardship, care and cultivation of our Irish heritage apple trees.

Paul Dempsey, master craftsman, for beautiful oak blown seating which fits perfectly into the ‘Home’ Circuit.

Paul Dempsey created these benches specifically for the Sanctuary biodiversity field from storm blown oak. You can see the craftmanship in the work.