What if we let go of the limiting idea of our public spaces as “city parks” and began exploring the entire range of social spaces that already exist in the city? This is the first in a series of posts.
Talented architects, designers and public space practitioners, green space enthusiasts, and everyday citizens dream of a greener Accra, one in which city parks can become the norm. Like any growing, changing and developing city, Accra is evolving. The city attracts investment, enterprises, and residents. It’s a space with numerous competing land uses: commercial properties and activities, office spaces, churches and mosques, housing, roads, and sidewalks for some of those roads, among others. Construction is happening all around us, building outward (urban sprawl), building upward (vertically, with more and more multistory and high-rise buildings), and rebuilding on existing space. This shift is everywhere; we can look at the satellite city developments in planning and implementation, we can examine land use turnover (tending toward commercial properties and apartments). In Accra, space is money, and many feel that open spaces and parks are losing out.
All that said, my instinctual response is to emphasize that Accra does have open spaces and urban parks. Many of them could be better patronized: There’s the underutilized 12-acre Efua Sutherland Children’s Park, one of the largest green spaces in the city. There’s Ako Adjei Park, Nyaniba Park and Kawukudi Park:
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So for me, critical questions emerge: Why are we only looking at city parks? What, if anything, are we already doing/what is happening organically or informally? And who is “we,” anyway? Continue Reading