Charrette: Children's park / playspace and center in the Dzorwulu neighborhood of Accra.
Mmofra Foundation extends a heartfelt thank you to all collaborators in the first phase design of a community play space and children’s centre in Accra, Ghana, incorporating the best possible opportunities for active, imaginative play and hands-on learning. The Playtime in Africa Initiative is a response to the dire need for safe, purpose-designed public spaces for children in the cities of sub-Saharan Africa. This project is envisioned as a prototype of sustainable, child-focused urban design in Ghana, which can be replicated elsewhere.
Our fantastic onsite charrette team included children aged between 13 and 17, community residents, university (students and professionals) in the following fields; architecture, art and artisanship, planning, landscaping, environment and ecology, business, civil engineering (hydrology, early childhood education, secondary education, interior design, traditional knowledge, mechanics, public health and theater. These folks brought great energy and generosity to bear on the process.
The three participants from the U.S. included two AFH design fellows and one urban planning student from UC Berkeley.
Ken Smith, Stacey McMahan and Saneta deVuono powell, thank you specially for coming to Accra to join us.
Student architects Kooko Ocansey and Emmanuel Sackey of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology were awesome! Elisabeth Sutherland facilitated teen participation with the support of David Longdon.
Global collaborators played a key role in getting this charrette going and contributing design input. Rachel Phillips has been an extraordinary facilitator in every way. Peter Exley of Architecture is Fun introduced us to AFH/WC. Jerry Allan and students of the Minneapolis College of Art and Design have partnered with us. We're happy to recognize Lila Cohen's wonderful 'Armature"report and concept sketch of our site which she shared with us during the charrette. Flavio Janches of the U. of Buenos Aires generously shared his playground design processes, and Friends of Mmofra in Spokane, USA gave us all its attention in the lead up.
The contributions of people in Accra gave shape and meaning to the public conversations at the Opening and Closing events, and helped in other practical ways. Special thanks to: Karen Akiwumi-Tanoh, Gyan Apenteng, Sandy Arkhurst, Edwina Assan, Fredericka Dadson, Larry Otoo, Shoko Takemoto.
The online community has encouraged us enormously. Thank you Joe Peach of ThisBigCity, Alex Smith of PlayGroundology, Chris Berthelsen of a_small_lab, Alex Gilliam of Public Workshop, Sarah Brophy of bMuse.
Who we are:
Mmofra means “children” in the Akan language of Ghana. Active since 1997, Mmofra Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to enriching the cultural and intellectual lives of all children in Ghana. Though our Playtime in Africa Initiative, we will seek support to develop and maintain our urban green space as pioneering and uniquely West African model for the benefits of nature-inspired play in child development and community place-making.
What is a charrette?
A charrette brings multidisciplinary professionals and community stakeholders together for a period of intensive work to explore solutions to a design challenge. At this charrette, we plan to:
>Discuss the “state of play” in Ghana’s urban centers, and establish the guiding principles of the project
>Consolidate data from local neighborhood mapping, community input, and international models, and apply the findings to the site.
>Brainstorm innovative solutions to our specific design/engineering challenges
>Document outcomes and lay the groundwork for the next phase of development
Agenda. Process and Outcome
The Playtime in Africa charrette was book-ended by an opening and a closing, both off-site public sessions which placed the project in its historical, cultural and social context, so that participants were primed as to the importance of the work they were about to do, and also carried out their assignments conscious of the responsibility of reporting back to the larger community. Reports and images are being uploaded to Files.
The project site
The site is an approximately 900 sq. meter plot in Accra, currently being used as an organic market garden, but otherwise undeveloped. The site is flat with some trees located in a low-lying area off a major intersection in the mixed use/mixed income neighborhood of Dzorwulu-Abelenkpe. The area has schools, residences, and a variety of enterprises catering to multiple levels of economic and social community. Urban development has contributed to poor drainage and soil salinity, which has affected some nearby buildings.