In a previous article, The spaces below, we explored how some cities around the world were embedding everyday life into the spaces beneath “big infrastructure” to bring vibrancy and safety to “no-go” zones. It was a great surprise then to learn that the Cape Town Gardens Skatepark, was announced as the winner, in the professional category of PLAYscapes, an international design competition launched earlier this year . The competition asked people to “submit a plan or proposal to turn a neglected forgotten part of your city into a playscape,”. Set up by Building Trust International, the competition called for “professional and student architects and designers from cities around the world to propose ideas which encouraged public interaction and turned redundant city spaces into fun creative places.”
Gardens, “a residential neighborhood of Cape Town situated south of the Central Business District and at the foot of Table Mountain,” is the location of an “eyesore” for years. The vacant public space there has since been transformed by this project, which hopes to “set precedent for the use of many of the vacant spaces below City of Cape Town Bridges and off-ramps.” It is also located adjacent to the MyCiTi station which connects to the remainder of the city.
Described as being “intelligent in its re-use of space transforming an under used and blighted underpass into a community led skate park,” Cape Town Gardens Skateparkis intended to be “a flagship project which will stimulate the proliferation of similar initiatives across the metropolitan region and cities in South Africa”.
The City of Cape Town team comprised of Gerrit Strydom, Lwandile Gcume and Aline Cremon, along with Errol van Amsterdam and Marvin Fester from C2C Consulting Engineers, and Clive Crofton from Spyda Ramps.
In April this year, the international PLAYscapes competition sought to find which world city is the most fun – London, New York City, Buenos Aires, Bangkok, Moscow, or Cape Town. To answer the question, they asked professional and student architects as well as designers from cities around the world to propose ideas which encouraged public interaction and turned redundant city spaces into fun creative places or transformed a neglected forgotten part of the city into a fun ‘playscape’. The competition aimed to encourage and reward design excellence at a small scale which integrates function, structure, details and the needs of those living in urban areas. Over 500 registered entrants took part and the jury panel included representatives from Building Trust International, Project for Public Spaces, BMW Guggenheim Lab, Landscape Architects Network, 3Space, Neon Stash, Land8 as well as academics and professionals from the fields of architecture and landscape design.
The City of Cape Town proudly submitted the Gardens Skate Park design to the competition in order to show how creatively we can transform negative space in our city into a fun place with opportunities for interaction and play.