Wawer. A Warsaw district office. The concept of a park to support building intergenerational relationships.
The need to build social relationships and to come outside (people tired of being locked down) are the key social trends seen during the pandemic. A longing for nature, desire for a work-life balance and digital detox are the impulses driving people to search for their place on earth to give them relief. This is what city dwellers want today.
The authorities of the Warsaw district Wawer invited us to develop the concept of a park that would fit in with these trends and meet the real needs of the residents. Using the Design Thinking method, we came up with an idea of a common space that would encourage people to explore and experience together. A place for generations, created by generations.
- Wawer, Warsaw
Designing a concept for a park to support the building of relationships
Supporting relationship building between the residents of the Wawer district
A unique space to bring generations together
The Wawer district, located in the right-bank part of Warsaw, bordering the town of Józefów to the south, has been famous for its dynamic development and lush green areas for many years. The Wawer district office approached us with a project to come up with a concept for a park. They wanted to give their residents a unique space that would connect generations. Accessible to all social groups.
A showcase of the district
We had a clearly defined goal – to develop the concept of a park that would support intergenerational relationships. In that new, well-thought-out space, residents should be able to spend time actively, discover and explore together.
The park was also expected to be a showcase of the district, fit into its character and stand out in terms of aesthetics, modernity and design. It was important for the district office to offer the residents a space that would be useful, but also visually attractive.
We developed the park concept using our Design Thinking approach – we used tools to help us identify and find solutions for people’s real needs. We analyzed trends, projects proposed in participatory budgets as well as competitive solutions. We conducted ethnographic research, in-depth interviews and we surveyed the residents.
The Wawer district office had been surprisingly empathetic in its approach to residents and open for collaboration on the project already before. As a result, we were able to engage officials, residents and experts. Over 250 people were involved in the entire process.
Is beauty about simplicity? Having analysed a number of factors, we can say this is largely a true statement.
Our ethnographic interviews exposed residents’ needs and complaints, which enabled us to fit out the concept with solutions that not only look nice and promote activity, but also take care of people’s basic needs. Consultations with relationship building experts brought similar conclusions.
We also had a lot of discussions inside our project team. The most important thing for us to keep in mind was to always remember who we were designing the park for.
We developed three initial concepts for the park. Confronting them with all stakeholders to show in which direction we could go was a very important step in the process. With first descriptions of facilities, sketches and proposed solutions, the park started to take on colours and shapes in our minds.
The final concept of the park included ideas from all the three directions. Solutions with focus on joint activities, suitable for all age groups, were essential. The Family Activities Park is the starting point for exploring, discovering and experiencing together.
It’s a place where adventure and cooperation begin. It has ready-made ideas for spending free time.
That idea was visualized with a four-tier pyramid. At its base, there are the basic needs and functions: a restaurant area, access to a water source and a car park. With these amenities, it is possible for visitors to spend even a whole day in the park.
The second tier has facilities that complement the park's offer, responding to the various needs of the residents. There are paths running among the trees, a green roof, a natural play area and an audiovisual/workshop space.
We have placed the key attractions on the next, third level. It is here that features which determine the originality of the park and encourage visitors to discover the Wawer district have been placed. There is a game hub, a sports equipment rental desk, a camping area and neon light installations.
At the heart of the park stands a tower (the top of the pyramid). Because it is so high, visitors can watch the surrounding nature, greenery and the night sky from it. The tower should stand out with unconventional architecture to become a dominant feature of the landscape. At the top, there will be optical instruments and a three-dimensional map of the Wawer area. Paths leading to all the attractions will start at the base of the tower.
Thanks to the more than 250 people involved in the entire process, including the staff of the district office, the relationship building experts and residents, we were able to develop a park concept fully aligned with the design guidelines.
Every interview and analysis we carried out brought us closer to solutions that are going to support building intergenerational relationships. The project is also distinguished by a modern design and will become a showcase of the whole district.