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How Kic Park Went From Forgotten Space Into a Space People Care About

Kic Park

Kic Park, by 3GATTI, in Shanghai, China. The spaces between urban buildings and interstitial spaces are often difficult ones to deal with in terms of design. Many turn into surface parking lots, small buildings, or paved spaces devoid of any character, sense of place, and any natural elements. It is these very spaces that can become very important as a unifying element of an area, such as a city, where development and redevelopment create fragments that are unrelated to each other, and where ‘nature’ in its basic sense is, often, forgotten. So, how did one small urban park in Shanghai, China, achieve a functional yet attractive space that entices visitors to gather and be influenced by nature?

Kic Park

Kic Park. Photo credit: Shen Qiang

Kic Park

Kic Park, designed by Francesco Gatti of 3GATTI Architects has proven that these interstitial spaces can be created with a purpose, and in this specific case, the purpose was to serve as a place where people can gather and pause, and reflect on their surroundings in an otherwise busy urban centre, as well as have a bit of fun with the playful nature of the park. Creating various levels and viewpoints and the use of a variety of different materials set this park apart from its urban and concrete surroundings, and draws the passersby into the space, encouraging various activities and social engagements.

Kic Park

Kic Park. Photo credit: Shen Qiang

The Urban Setting

Urban settings are scenes of development, bustling with people, traffic, construction, and a constant buzz of busyness. In a place like China, whose urban centres are heavily populated and congested, public spaces can often be hard to come by since real estate is at a premium, and the need for housing and business development comes at a high price.

Kic Park

Kic Park. Photo credit: Shen Qiang

Creating places where people can pause, gather, play, and be exposed to natural elements are a challenge within urban settings, but also arguably necessary. Enter Kic Park and you see natural elements within a tight urban centre, and that too, combined successfully. Here, in this highly urbanized area in Shanghai, 3GATTI Architects has developed a playful, thoughtful, yet practical design for all the people.
Kic Park

Kic Park. Photo credit: Shen Qiang

Kic Park – The Small But Mighty Park

Kic Park is an interstitial place; a small piece of property in between a variety of buildings and streets that it likely proved difficult to develop as a park due to encroaching building development. However, designer Francesco Gatti viewed this as a place with promise, and a place that had the potential to turn into a great public space that people could stop and engage with while commuting in and around the city.

Kic Park

Kic Park. Photo credit: Shen Qiang

This relatively small (1100 m2), but mighty public space uses a variety of hard materials, including wood and acrylic planks and decking, river rock and gravel, as well as soft materials including grass and trees, scattered throughout the park at different intervals and heights, adding dimension and movement to the small space.
Kic Park

Kic Park. Photo credit: Shen Qiang

Kic Park

Kic Park. Photo credit: Shen Qiang

It’s All in The Details

Details, details, and details. Everything is always in the details, and this is something that makes this park so appealing as an engaging place. The areas that promote circulation are all planked wood, in boardwalk style. The boardwalk encompasses most of the park, which helps to create the sense of unique place, and draws people into the site. The boardwalk is set at heights keeping in mind the human scale and can be used as areas to sit, or to ride a bike over and perform tricks, with some areas of the decking extending straight up and doubling as a base for signage. The varying heights, widths, and angles of the boards are, therefore, playful, and appear as though it is almost asking visitors to be imaginative in how they use it. Is one supposed to sit on the edges, or lean against the angled boards that look like they can be a backrest?

Kic Park

Kic Park. Photo credit: Shen Qiang

The visitor gets to decide, which is one of the reasons why this space is engaging and important! The activities and locations for various activities are not implicitly prescribed, but rather they foster creativity and play. And who doesn’t like to play?
Kic Park

Kic Park. Photo credit: Shen Qiang

Of course, there are some obvious tables and chairs scattered around the site for those who aren’t as privy to playing as others may be. Activities such as skateboarding, biking, and general people watching are not prohibited, so people can come and spend more time in the park than they perhaps would in one with just some simple benches to sit on. The grass and trees are scattered around the site, often in ways that can appear to be ‘hidden’ planting beds, and bring about that subtle nature to the site that softens it, and brings visitors back in tune with nature. They can act as subtle queues in the park, almost like punctuation marks strewn about, continuing with the playful theme.
Kic Park

Kic Park. Photo credit: Shen Qiang

It is the small and delicate intricacies, the juxtaposition to the urban surroundings, and the playful and engaging nature of the site that helps to make this interstitial space an important one, and one that brings people to it. Whether it is being used as a transitory stop in one’s journey or a specific destination, remains up to the individual, but it is arguable that this space serves as a distinct feature in its urban setting. Do you think small, interstitial spaces are important for creating a cohesive urban fabric, or are they simply spaces that stand alone as unique features in a landscape? What other ways can these spaces be developed to engage people? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below! Go to comments
Kic Park

Kic Park. Photo credit: Shen Qiang

Full Project Credits For Kic Park

Project Name: Kic Park Programme: Public open spaces, gardens, playgrounds, resting areas, advertising supports. Architecture firm: 3GATTI Chief architect: Francesco Gatti Project manager: Summer Nie Collaborators: Nicole Ni, Francesco Negri, Dalius Ripley, Michele Ruju, Muavii Sun, Charles Mariambourg Client: Shui On Development Limited Location: KIC VILLAGE Blok8-2, Zhengmin Road, Yangpu District, 200433 Shanghai, China. Total floor area: 1100 m² Design and construction period: 2009 Materials: Wooden deck, steel structure, brick walls, acrylic boards. Photographer: Shen Qiang Get Social With 3GATTI: Website: www.3gatti.com Facebook: www.facebook.com/3GATTI/ LinkedIN: www.linkedin.com/company/3gatti Vimeo: www.vimeo.com/3gatti YouTube: www.youtube.com/user/studio3gatti Recommended Reading:

Article by Kaila Johnson Return to Homepage

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