The Netherlands' Afrika Museum and African Architecture Matters recently announced that Valley-based Fusion Architecture's Garden City Park is one of three finalists for the 2010 "Blueprints of Paradise" competition.
Kobina Banning, founder of Fusion Architecture (FA), and his team "were asked to visualize their vision on 'future built Africa,'" says Banning. The result is a 1.7-mile-long, 19-square-acre park located in Banning's native Kumasi, Ghana, West Africa, that incorporates the area's Ashanti-established traditions while taking into account the modern hustle and bustle of Ghana's second-largest city.
The proposed site, located at an abandoned spot next to a disused railway station, lies adjacent to the Kumasi Central Market, an area that's so mammoth in size and all-encompassing in products that locals have joked that you can even find human body parts for sale (which is a definitely an urban myth, though niche items, such as vulture heads, are available for purchase). The park would act as a welcome reprieve to the urban chaos of the Central Market.
The forward-thinking design of Garden City Park is bold yet realistic, and also considers overall sustainability while incorporating solar-powered applications in the perpetually warm region. The design includes a public transportation system, an art gallery, a community football (aka soccer) field, and a "Living Kiosk" project that modernizes the street vendors' shed-like spaces that populate nearly every roadside in Ghana. (FA's "Living Kiosk" was also submitted to the Afrika Museum competition; it received an honorable mention designation.)
A unique spin that FA has put on the blueprint is to "wrap" the public space in adinkra cloth, a hand-printed fabric developed by the Ashanti people. The park's pattern, as seen from the air, would look similar to the sacred cloth that's been stamped with adinkra symbols.
The design's full name - Garden City Park: Sankofa Our Modern Heritage - also gives an ode to African traditions since, according to Fusion Architecture, "'Sankofa' is an Akan symbol that means '[y]ou must retrieve the knowledge of the past to prepare for the future.'"
The winner, which will receive a significant cash prize, will be announced in early April during the opening ceremony of the "Blueprints of Paradise" exhibition at the Afrika Museum in Berg en Dal, Holland. Banning, who will be flown to The Netherlands for the proceedings, will also be taking part in workshops, lectures, and debates.
For more about Garden City Park, including a look at an interactive video, check out this link.