“what activities and features would draw residents to the park. Meaningful engagement is a critical component to foster community ownership and a sense of pride in their local park”
The Smart Park concept is aimed at providing for inclusivity, social interaction and the integration of communities. Discover the 6 new smart parks initiated by the City of Cape Town.
View a presentation on Smart Parks here
The City Parks Department of the City of Cape Town has initiated innovative projects that apply what it determines to be “smart” in the planning, design and creation of new parks in Cape Town.
The concept of Smart Parks was one of the City’s World Design Capital (WDC) 2014 projects demonstrating how, by applying design-led thinking, the quality of life of residents can be improved. According to the City’s Belinda Walker it seeks to “inspire improved community-led park development for areas of highest need, and focuses on getting the basics right and providing attractive park facilities that are both structurally sound and creatively designed”.
According to the City, one of the key aspects when developing a ‘Smart Park’ is meaningful community engagement to decide collectively on the nature and form of the envisaged facilities. “City Parks set out to investigate what activities and features would draw residents to the park. Meaningful engagement is a critical component to foster community ownership and a sense of pride in their local park. This in turn, is seen as an investment in the park’s long-term sustainability.” adds Walker.
Each of the parks will include custom-made play areas, incorporating the latest ideas around “creating a fun experience that develops imagination of children and encourages them to be active”. The play areas will be state of the art, with diverse and creative play equipment similar to that provided in the Green Point Urban Park.
The City has also been guided by the ‘Power of 10’ principle by PPS which states that any great public place needs to offer at least 10 things to do or 10 reasons to be there. Activities need to be interesting enough to keep people coming back. The two larger Smart Parks, NY110 Park in Gugulethu and the Mandela Park in Khayelitsha, have been designed to offer a host of reasons for residents to re-visit these parks.
Symphony Park in Delft
This park will contain a relaxation/ picnic area and a play park as well. Trees and seating will improve the public environment, providing places for people to meet and relax under the shade of a tree. The park has a central location in Delft which is ideal as many children can access this area easily. Located with other facilities such as picnic sites and the community facility, the increased activities help to improve safety.
NY110 Gugulethu Smart Park
Coming out of the public engagements for the first Smart Parks, the Gugulethu Smart Park will include outdoor gym equipment at the specific request of the local community. The park also boasts places for people to relax and enjoy the outdoors with shaded seated areas and picnic spots, as well as a state of the art children’s play park that offers opportunities for children to develop physically and cognitively in a safe environment.
Mandela Park in Khayelitsha
A picnic section has been developed with soft landscaping and trees have been planted to create an inviting green space for people to enjoy. A play area with rubberised matting has been provided to ensure a safe and fun playing experience. The community of Mandela Park requested a space be designed specifically for exercise that does not require equipment, such as aerobics and yoga. This park will also include an amphitheatre for use as an outdoor education area and is expected to be popular with the two adjacent schools.
Valhalla Park Family Recreation Centre
The City of Cape Town invested R33 million in the Valhalla Park Family Recreational Centre, which is the first of its kind in Cape Town. The Valhalla Park Family Recreation Centre in Bishop Lavis provides a multi-purpose recreational facility that caters to formal and informal sporting codes and leisure activities for residents of all ages. The centre has been built in an area of great need, and aims to help improve quality of life and address the negative impacts of poverty through recreational opportunity.
This hub, situated on over six hectares of land, includes a full-size synthetic soccer pitch; a clubhouse and community facility; a network of pathways and landscaped areas through the park; a BMX track built as part of a detention pond; playground areas; outdoor gym areas; a spray park; a change room and ablution facilities; a flatlet for a caretaker; outdoor reading rooms for community interaction with library activities; two mini-soccer pitches; two multipurpose courts; and a multitude of landscape architecture features.
Residents in Nomzamo were upbeat at being included in discussions around the facilities to be included in the new smart park in their area. It was decided to have four distinct sections: a passive area, a play area, an active area, and an area for leisurely movement.
The passive area was designed with relaxation in mind. Large trees will be planted in groups to provide shade for a picnic area where residents can meet and relax. In addition, rows of trees will be planted to define an entry point for taxis and a waiting area for the commuters.
The active area of the Nomzamo Smart Park will cater for those who wish to participate in more ball sports. A synthetic pitch will be installed to accommodate the various sporting needs. This will be decided at a later stage and depends on what the community will suggest. The edge of the synthetic courts will be defined with low-wall seating to accommodate spectators. Large trees will be planted strategically for shade.
The play equipment will be constructed in an imaginative and creative manner to cater for a broad range of ages and the active area will allow for ball sports.
To facilitate the ease of movement, well-defined pathways will be incorporated. This will support activities such as jogging and walking leisurely through the various areas of the smart park.
As described by the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Community Services, Councillor Anda Ntsodo, in Atlantis Smart Park, “there has been an emphasis on including educational aspects. This has been achieved through a planted area which will include indigenous plants with informative signage. Outdoor classrooms have been incorporated to be used by schools from the surrounding areas. The space could also be used as a community gathering point”.
The Atlantis Smart Park also has four distinct sections with a passive area, a play area, an active area, and an area for leisurely movement.
The passive area consists of a multipurpose lawn area with large trees to provide shade. Trees will be used to define the walkways for commuters.
The play area will cater for a broad range of ages and includes a toddler area and adventure play area for older children. The play area will be constructed in an imaginative and creative manner with custom-designed play equipment.
A synthetic pitch and multipurpose court will be installed to accommodate the various sporting needs. The active area will include an outdoor gym that has a focus on calisthenics. Low walls and trees will define the active area and provide seating for spectators.
The City Parks Department hopes to ensure that accessibility, safety, and convenience are all successes associated with the Smart Parks concept, and that communities not only benefit but enjoy their new Smart Parks.
Also see, the presentation by Belinda Walker at series ‘The future of public space‘ here.
Read more about parks:
- Why community parks can improve the health of a neighbourhood : The case of Thornhill Park
- Parks and Re-Creation: The Revitalizing Power of Parks in Cities
- WATCH: Smart urbanism, not smart cities by Maarten Hajer
- Can South Africa’s Smart Cities Please Stand Up?
- Alderman Belinda Walker (former Mayoral Committee Member for Community Services and Special Projects)
- Integrated strategic communication and branding department, City of Cape Town
- All image credits, City of Cape Town