Ghobeiry Public Park “inclusive playscape” is a project we implemented in Ghobeiry city, located on the outskirts of Beirut in the Baabda District of Mount Lebanon Governorate. In partnership with Terre Des Hommes Italy, and funded by UNICEF Lebanon, this project involved the rehabilitation of the park. It focussed on making the space more accessible for its multi-generational and varied users, including children from the schools nearby and caregivers for whom the park is a vital public space. The design was informed by a participatory assessment involving interviews and FGDs with residents, key stakeholders and the municipality; as well as hands-on workshops with children. The project was also underpinned by the desire to work within the existing features of the park, naturally a very green and vibrant space.
Ghobeiry Public Park was often used by a diversity of people, toddlers, children, young people (scouts, students), caregivers and senior residents. However, its users felt that the park was lacking infrastructure that made it more suitable for this variety of users – such as benches, safe play spaces for children and toddlers, and areas for local groups to conduct activities.
The design for Ghobeiry Public Park built upon the existing features of the park, including an abundance of trees providing natural shade and an empty pavilion with lots of potential. It also focussed on creating spaces which catered to its different users. To this end, the design involved the building of five new spaces. Two of these made use of the existing pavilion to create a space for resting and an open classroom which could be used for activities and workshops. The other three spaces were centred on play, with a variety of coloured walls each indicating a different type of play. There is a blue wall representing the space for active play, including basketball and climbing games; a yellow wall for adventure play, featuring a big slide and a playhouse; and a red wall for sensorial play, incorporating visual and musical games.
The rehabilitation works in the park also involved making the space accessible for everyone. We did this by building two main access ramps that provide access to the park from both the main gate and the back entrance near the school. Small ramps were added throughout the park to ensure that the different areas can be accessed through an interconnected pathway. We also sought to ensure that the new play items in the park were inclusive by creating games that could be used by everyone, as well as designing and locally building a seesaw that is appropriate for wheelchair users.
Other infrastructural improvements also included the building of a new and accessible bathroom and the rehabilitation of the guards’ room.
The design of the park is colourful and vibrant and it features fun shapes and motifs. Some of these were even designed by the children themselves. In keeping with the natural theme of the park, we led a workshop with Terre Des Hommes Italy in which children drew the different kinds of birds – some realistic, some imaginary! These designs were then laser cut into woodcuttings which have been installed throughout the park.