BNW's Grand Creative Park in Kragujevac

The “Grand Creative Park of the City of Kragujevac” is a initiative of the First Lady of Serbia, Mrs. Dragica Nikolic, inspired by her own experiences of growing up and living in her hometown of Kragujevac, as well as with BDW’s non-profit campaign to build “100 creative playgrounds for the children in Serbia”, in cooperation with the City of Kragujevac. The project is technically supported by companies such as Lappset from Finland, global innovation leaders in playground solutions.

After the intensive media coverage of the opening of the first two Kalemegdan playgrounds and the HUMAN CITIES/ project development in Serbia, the “Dragica Nikolic” Foundation, expressing interest in the results of the project, contacted BDW with a commission to investigate the situation with public spaces in the central Serbian city of Kragujevac. As part of the HUMAN CITIES/ experimentation phase, BDW carried out a series of researches, interviews, location and user needs analyses of the Grand Park, as well as analyses of potentials and visions of the city of Kragujevac with its leading stakeholders. BDW and associates of the project utilized the selected method of Jan Gehl Architects, mapping the needs of the citizens of Kragujevac in the context of the Grand Park’s rational usage and emotional bonds, while the Foundation in parallel raised funds for the realization of the first park section to be built – the playgrounds.

The Foundation “Dragica Nikolic” has donated the funding for the first phase of the project. Mrs. Nikolic, as a fellow citizen of Kragujevac, through the establishment of the Foundation provides an example to citizens of Serbia and spreads the idea of mutual help and support. Through realization of non-profit projects Ms. Nikolic successfully pursues the goals of the Foundation.

The aim of the Foundation is to enable citizens of Kragujevac, by means of participatory urbanism and cooperation with Serbian and world best practices in the field of innovation and design, to further develop their beloved park, starting with playgrounds that will have a lasting life, and provide children with an inspiring and safe environment through an innovative, creative, active and versatile space to play, providing education and recreation. A further objective of the Foundation is to review, in a wider context, the existing urban, green and historical premises of Kragujevac, stretching from the Grand Park to Sumarice, and to try to integrate them into one uninterrupted entity, designed as a unique model of relaxation and contemplation. At the same time creating a new cultural and historical destination for high quality tourism in Serbia’s heartland based on existing treasuers of Kragujevac’s heritage, which already include works of some of the global greatest minds of creative thinking such as Vojin Bakic and Ivan Antic.

In collaboration with the City of Kragujevac, especially the Urban Planning Department and the City Parks Department, The Foundation of the First Lady of Serbia and local NGO’s, BDW triggered the realization of an innovative idea concept of the future Grand Park, entitled “Creative”, as the first vision for discussion. BDW led the experimentations, while the development of the preliminary design concept was entrusted to the team from Studio DVA, headed by architect and professor from the Faculty of Architecture in Belgrade Aleksandar Vuja, and his students, several of which are from Kragujevac.

The result of the efforts was beginning of the revitalization of the most important green area in Kragujevac. The Creative Park for children and seniors was built on an area of about 10.000 square meters in the Grand Park of Kragujevac. Whereas the Great Park was traditionally a favourite walking place for all generations in Kragujevac, a dense canopy of century-old trees, walkways and benches, it has inevitably shared the fate of the deterioration of the city in the past few decades. The city aimed to enable its citizens to further develop their beloved park, starting with playgrounds that will have a lasting life, and provide children with an inspiring and safe environment through an innovative, creative, active and versatile space to play, providing education and recreation. 

The new concept for Kragujevac’s most important park opens the doors for the development of the Park for at least the next ten years, both through public-private partnerships in financing as well as with full participation of citizens in the decision-making process. That way the city administration boldly goes beyond the local and asks that in the framework of European cities, that belong to the project, estimate the social responsibility of Kragujevac. As an ecosystem, the Park is a rare urban tissue of park greenery maintained over one hundred years. The benefits of this heritage, the potential social interactions, the microclimate and emotional aspects that it generates, all contribute to the general perception of this type of architecture as a focus point, around which we can gather our attention, assess our will for a better tomorrow and present it as our contribution to the urban community gathered around the pan-European Human Cities/ project. 

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