Submitted by Rabia Haneef Meo

"Where do the Children Play?" Mohammad Ali Sadpara Park Korangi, Karachi

Pakistan Architecture News - May 06, 2021 - 13:10   3366 views

   

Community development can be described as advancement within the standard of communal existence. It can also be identified as the change or growth of a community being evolved into a more advanced, impressive, successful, stronger, or complete over a period of  time. Community development is dependent upon the visions and actions of community members, and the circumstances. While urban communities have undergone rapid development to become larger, more intensive, or more complex quite drastically; problems have also emerged dramatically.

The architects play a significant role in the molding and making of a space and region. It is the architect’s responsibility, to not only focus on the health and safety of the space’s users but also to exist symbiotically and blend as well as enhance their surroundings and environment on both local and global levels.

 Image © Ali Arshad Associates

Korangi Town located in the city of Karachi, Pakistan was a well planned and developed town that has been serving as a business hub for last four decades. Rapid industrialization and population growth due to immigrants and job opportunities has eroded the infrastructure and has taken away the basic needs of a healthy environment. The total population of the area is (Approx) - 3,000,000, Total Union Councils - 09 and the total Area is (Approx) - 41 Sq km.

Image © Ali Arshad Associates

Public parks have become indispensable necessities in the current times. Ever increasing pollution, contracting open space due to urbanization and industrialization, increasing traffic on roads etc all have contributed to the deterioration of environment and human health. An absence of open spaces in the colony and the existing filth in the communal areas has affected the social wellbeing, especially the young ones.

Architect Ali Naqvi who is the Principal Architect of Ali Arshad Associates; an architecture design firm based in Karachi; is running an orphanage in this area for two years. He identified the park located in the area of Korangi with a philanthropist who recently introduced computer lab in the neighborhood. Architect Ali Naqvi observed the unhealthy conditions of the park and streets around it and decided to adopt the park, saying: “let’s work together to take that school and do something for the kids of the Korangi area. We need to do something for the children of these streets. The architect remarked: I can’t really forget the scene I have witnessed there of garbage and children; you have really started something big and contributed for the orphans of the area. Let’s set up a computer lab, take up a school and adopt a park.”

Image © Ali Arshad Associates

Prior Site Conditions:

Image © Ali Arshad Associates

Gilgit Park-Sector 48-B on Aziziya road is 9,500-yard land, which was swamped by the sewage water that was channelized from all sides and directed to be dumped on the site and about three to four feet of drain water had been standing there stagnant with the filth jeopardizing healthy conditions for the kids to play in this unhygienic environment for years. Electricity, drainage, waste management, cleanliness and lack of recreational facilities were just a few issues that the architect and his firm noticed and tried to address.

Design:

Layout of the park was conceived as per the needs of the locals. The firm identified that the kids were interested in recreational and sports activities instead of just a communal park. Park is designed to cater recreational fun for teens and toons that will have decorations all around the park. Play areas include jungle gyms, monkey bars, mountain climbing, slides, swings and sea-saws; sports facilities such as football field, basketball court, cricket ground, skating ring and jogging tracks. 

Image © Ali Arshad Associates

The Execution Phase:

The firm set up a local committee who wrote letters to the municipal authority for the permission of refurbishing the existing park. The firm also requested them to come forward and address the issues of cleaning up the roads leading to the park and mend the broken sewage to stop the drain from entering the park's boundary. 

Image © Ali Arshad Associates

With the help of K-Electric, Deputy Commissioner Korangi-Mr. Sheharyar Memon, Hi-Tech Construction and the generous sponsor-philanthropist, the firm took an initiative to develop the ground into a fun recreational space for families. Over forty truckloads of garbage waste was cleared by bulldozer for months from inside the park, however around the periphery the challenge still persists as there is no regular cleaning system in place by the civil authorities.

Not only the park was catering to drug mafia but was also being used for all sorts of illegal activities which high level authorities failed to address. Land was filled with filth, plastic waste, dead dogs, stolen motor bikes. The drain water of the entire surrounding area was standing stagnant here for years.

Image © Ali Arshad Associates

In the remaining space kids were found playing as well as there was the setup of Saturday Bazaar which was an illegal bhatta activity done by a local that was resumed despite the filth. 

Role of Institutions:

In order to get started with the park cleanup mission, the team first fixed the main road with the help of KMC. The road leading to the park for about two kilometers was unapproachable from all sides. Roads around the area got carpeted and dressed with kerb stones, allowing the site to be approached by vehicle. 

Image © Ali Arshad Associates

K-Electric helped the firm's team with the installation PMTs and ABC cable poles which played a big part in resolving major electricity breakdown issue of the area and improved the performance. It has also encouraged the locals to stop illegal consumption of electricity and get legal connections instead of stealing electricity through kundas(hooks). 

Image © Ali Arshad Associates

Water board was involved to channelize the existing sewage lines around the park and the choked drain lines of the houses which was not only flooding the streets but was also making the area sewage drain to collect with in the park boundary. Various channeling has been done to drain out the existing water of the park and the streets that is now connecting the drain lines to central sewage system of the town. The streets around the park are now nice and dry and the residents are able to access their homes.

Image © Ali Arshad Associates

Since the park land was naturally in depression, a tedious process was followed of contouring, leveling, dressing, cutting and filling of the excavated earth to cover the depression of area that was filled with sewage water, sludge, garbage and plastic waste. It took  months to clear the filth and refill the ground with fresh earth filling. The firm's mission was to provide a healthy, clean and creative environment to the people living around this park.

Image © Ali Arshad Associates

Project After Execution:

To ensure the landscape remains lush green and hydrated around the year the firm has introduced natural filtration system, where the drain water will be channelized through, stones, rocks and shrubs that will naturally filter the water and will collect into a reservoir that will be watering the landscape even if there is a drought. Around 350 to 400 of various types of trees and shrubs are planted around the park.

 

 Image © Ali Arshad Associates

Gilgit Park is named after the iconic mountain climber Muhammad Ali Sadpara, who recently went missing while climbing the world’s second highest mountain peak – K2. Internationally known mountaineer had climbed worlds eight highest mountains and had been representing Gilgit-Skardu Pakistan all over the globe for his passion thus giving the firm a strong reason to name the park after him and for the local Gilgities to remember the hero and follow his passion in sports.

Community Involvement:

In order to retain the efforts of refurbishing the park, the firm has developed a committee of responsible individuals that include young men, women, children and senior citizens living around the park to take up the responsibility of owning up the space, managing the timings and ensuring the firm's endeavor is not wasted so that the families living around it will socially benefit for years to come and make it an exemplary communal effort. 

Image © Ali Arshad Associates

Community involvement for artwork on the walls has been held amongst the teams. Children around the area have shown enthusiasm and expressed their emotions through art. Sense of belonging, happiness and ownership is felt and can be noticed each passing day on their faces. Children are all perched up on boundary walls eager to jump in and start enjoying. This is where the children play!

Image © Ali Arshad Associates

Architect Ali Naqvi took a much needed initiative and turned an ugly site into a beautiful place for the welfare of the community. Such initiatives are much needed in developing countries and these acts serve as an inspiration among the public. This is a project that has not only improved the lives of children and the general public but has also contributed towards building a healthier society that owns and nurtures its roots; ponders about the collective good and knows how to contribute towards a better future positively. 

Top image © Ali Arshad Associates