Meaningful community engagement is key to the development of a smart park in order to collectively decide on the nature and form of the envisaged facilities. Smart park facilities are designed to be multi-functional and it is extremely important to receive input from the communities who will be using these recreational spaces.
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 days of installing play equipment that caters just for the little ones are over. The equipment should be constructed in an imaginative and creative manner to cater for a broad range of ages. There should also be an undulating surface to increase opportunities for play.
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.
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.
The City Parks Department has been getting the roll-out of smart parks right, with the innovative concept garnering a Merit Award of Excellence from the Institute for Landscape Architecture in South Africa (ILASA) in October 2015.
‘Smart parks are designed with communities in mind to cater for both young and old. The concept is aimed at providing for inclusivity, social interaction and the integration of communities. The intention is that the expanded number of activities provided for in smart parks will cater for the needs of all members of the community. ILASA’s recognition of the novel work being done by the City Parks Department is very exciting and it bodes well as the roll-out of smart parks continues.
‘Smart parks improve community-led park development for areas of highest need. We focus on getting the basics right and providing good quality, creative park facilities that are both structurally sound and smartly designed. This in turn is seen as an investment in the long-term sustainability of the park through a shared responsibility with our communities,’ said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Community Services and Special Projects, Alderman Belinda Walker.