South Africa wins international PLAYscapes competition

Building Trust International recently announced the winners of their international design competition PLAYscapes and South Africa’s Cape Town Gardens Skatepark project came out winner in the professional category.  The project description says:

“Gardens is a residential neighbourhood of Cape Town situated south of the Central Business District and at the foot of Table Mountain. The Vacant Area below the Jutland Avenue Bridge has been an eyesore and problem for quite a few years now. An initiative to transform this vacant public space into something that will benefit the community and solve some of the issues has been undertaken and that resulted in the current project. The hope is that this project will set precedent for the use of many of the vacant spaces below City of Cape Town Bridges and off-ramps. It is hoped that Cape Town Gardens Skatepark will be a flagship project which will stimulate the proliferation of similar initiatives across the metropolitan region and cities in South Africa. The project is intelligent in its re-use of space transforming an under used and blighted underpass into a community led skate park.”


Image: Building Trust International

This is a fantastic win which “seeks to set a precedent for similar enterprises”.  We would hope that we can see similar initiatives in areas that are in more need of social development than an area like Gardens, not to steal their thunder, it is a fantastic project, but as outlined in my earlier post we desperately need spaces like this for young people in underserviced, lower income areas.

There were some amazing proposals in the competition and I’ve selected my favourite which show what is possible to transform underused spaces into playful, creative and unifying hubs.


(Image: Building Trust International)

Bom(PLAY), Mumbai proposes a ‘play-corridor’ to be built around a pipeline which runs through the middle of Mumbai.  The corridor will provide for different activities “adapted to suit the needs of the city- scape and its local inhabitants”.  Features include a skate park, picnic areas, ping pong tables, fitness trail, art exhibition wall and a playground.  The project team say  “the city has the potential to be really fun, with a long waterfront, many rivers, a lot of trees, and a very enthusiastic population.”

bridge - jeru

(Image: Building Trust International)

The Bridge of Coexistence, Jerusalem “includes the active participation of both the Jewish and Arab residents who joined together with a mutual dream of making a better place for their children to play and establishing a communal space for leisure; a place that could provide an opportunity for building a bridge of coexistence and raze a blessed horizon of understanding and joint action .  The project strives to convert the empty yard to an appealing and inspiring space for children; a place which creates a real bridge between the two communities and encourage the common game, dialogue and acceptance of the other”


london zipline

(Image: Building Trust International)

The Urban Zipline, London – “aims it to retrofit the value of an unused longstanding feature of the urban landscape and turn it into an urban playscape. London, as a dominant city during the industrial revolution, is full of chimneys from this era. For the project a 21-meter red-brick sewer vent shaft of 1906 was chosen as the site. The proposal is to transform a chimney into an urban playscape that will offer the excitement of flying above the city skyline. The chimney zip line will bring life to the neglected green space around it by attracting visitors and residents, as well as new activities around it.”


(Image: Building Trust International)

Sliding Puzzle, São Paulo is a fun public art/play installation.  Millions of people take public transportation every day, spending an average of three hours on traffic to commute between home and work. Every time someone waits for transport, they have to spend 20 minutes waiting. Why not take that time and turn it into something more useful to the people into the city? The proposal is an idea to stimulate people’s art knowledge through a simple game that can be easily played within those 20 minutes. Even if not finished, whatever is displayed can already be considered art. Whoever plays with it is not only having fun but making the city prettier and becomes an artist themselves , as every time someone plays, a new drawing is created and a new art piece comes to life.


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