- Architect: Jared Benevict, Nyan Lin Aung, François Le Pivain, Aung Naing Win
- Visual Artist: António Distante
- Bamboo Technician: Kyaw Zin Latt
- Architecture Collaborator: François Le Pivain
- City: Yangon
- Country: Myanmar
Text description provided by the architects. Initiated by the local community in August 2019, the project is transforming a 0.4-acre wasteland into a recreational public space for the community. This small urban space used to be filled with bushes, wild grasses and rubbish. Complaints of drug use and violence were recurrent. The community started to speak up for their own rights and organized themselves in order to find a sustainable solution that could not only benefit the neighborhood but also act as a pilot project for Yangon. After 2 years of work, Plot ABC was able to raise enough funding to start the construction. This included a featured grant from Design Trust in Hong Kong.
The goal is to create a self-sustained multifunctional community public space which will include a chin lone court (traditional Burmese ball game), a zayat (senior resting area), an urban community farm, and a multi-functional sports field that can also serve as a venue for cultural and community events. The project’s governance, operation, and program are all designed to create opportunities for maximizing the participation of the community. The design is inspired by Myanmar’s traditional bamboo scaffolding construction technique. This national intangible heritage is slowly disappearing and being replaced with metal structures.
The objective of this real-world project in the center of the city is to showcase the possibilities that bamboo holds within the construction industry, as an ecological material with an extremely low carbon footprint. Using modern bamboo treatment techniques, we are able to build large-scale long-lasting structures, safe for public use. Recently, COVID-19 has become a major national issue and this project became an opportunity to explore new solutions to benefit the public’s safety and health.
During this long and tiring period of the pandemic, the lockdown has forced people to stay indoors for such an extended period of time that it has started to deteriorate their spirit. This community pocket park was designed to keep social distancing in mind. Upon the park’s completion, the community members will be able to use the space in a safe and socially distant way. In this way, if there is a third wave, the people living in the neighborhood will be able to enjoy the outdoors and relax in a safe environment; therefore, this pilot project will trigger the beginning of a conversation around pandemic-friendly urban planning strategies.
By adding to the park new trees, plants, bushes, and flowers, we are taking advantage of the psychological ecosystem services that nature can provide; a stress-reliever during a bleak period. Furthermore, the site is located along an open-air drainage canal. Plot ABC proposed a range of solutions to make the space safer and healthier to use. These include partially burying the drain underground into a pipeline, planting fragrant plants to make the space more enjoyable to use, keeping the public at a safe distance from the remaining drain, and planning out carefully the yearly maintenance work of the city in order to dig out and clean the drain from the effects of sedimentation.
The construction started after the military coup of February 2021, during a time of extreme political instability. This was proof that despite the events that occurred following the coup, not all projects were stopped, and that community pocket parks where kids can safely play and senior citizens can relax comfortably are more important than ever.