The breezy morning of Saturday 16 November was no stopping for the two dozen
locals of Sanepa who had gathered for the fourth consecutive week to transform
an unused plot of public land into a community park. This pocket of Sanepa was high on enthusiasm of the residents and
the crisp air only added to their fresh vigor. We had organized this fourth
and final Pro-user, Pro-ecology, Inclusive Design event in collaboration with
initiator Abhinash Pradhan. We were joined by creative celebrity Samriddhi Rai,
well known artist/activist Milan Rai and Swiss Monika Schaffner who was born in the
Shanta Bhavan Hospital. The methodology of meaningful participation of locals in the design
process has been developed carefully by Prof. Anne Feenstra over the years. He
believes it creates a greater sense of ownership, in this case, among the future
users of the park.
To lend a better visualization to all,
we pinned up a large drawing of the site. Two entrances
of the site were translated in the field with threads
of same color. The stage was a hump of clay; the
residents spread themselves in a curve as Prof. Feenstra kicked off the event.
He underlined that making a park is not merely a process of building but,
building and growing simultaneously. It is perhaps
more about a progressive design rather than considering the architectural design
as the conception of the perfect product.
Four groups led by Aman,
Rabita, Shyamli and Aarati brainstormed, sketched, calculated and debated for
about an hour, before they took turns in presenting their respective group ideas
and findings to everyone present. Many topics came out in addition to the basic
design starting points. Access, planting scheme, revival of resting platforms (Chautara),
murals, metal benches, individual seats in timber, water recharge, monkey
bars and sand pit were some of the opinions
shared. The idea of documenting the history of the place and its heritage in
some form was embraced by all including the tea shop owner who has been there
for the past 60 years. The idea of planting four native cherry trees locally
known as Payau (Prunus
Cerasoides) had been embraced by Senior Botanist Tirtha Bahadur Shrestha.
He shared that these trees were found primarily in the Himalayan region and their
autumn blossoms of are hues of pink and white which are stunningly beautiful.
All the inputs were jotted down for further
evaluation and consideration and even plans are being made now for an artist
competition soon. Artists aiming to create art in public spaces will be
encouraged to submit their ideas and designs. The long wall on the Southern
side of the park could be used for one public artistic expression for instance.
Youngest member Utkarsh Gopal (9 years)
had the final say stating that he had made a drawing of a park with his father
the previous night. He
would come and play in the future park, but it would also be the place where he
would wait in the park for the bus to take him to school.