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Department of Culture Affairs

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Taipei parks transformed into inclusive playgrounds

By Jewell Hsu
 
Taipei City Government has implemented the policy of “Inclusive Playgrounds” in the Rongxing Garden Park, Academia Park, and Bihu Park. Now, six more parks will have playground facilities that children, the elderly and even physically challenged people could use. Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) said the design of these playgrounds express Taipei’s concern for its citizens.
 
Seven principles of design
 
Taipei City Government’s Department of Cultural Affairs (DOCA), the lead agency in implementing the policy, cited the seven principles of an Inclusive Playground design: inclusive, fair, smart, independent, safe, comfortable, and pro-active.
 
Fair means that the design of the play equipment considers the needs of children, the elderly and the handicapped. Inclusive means the playground encourages community residents to invite their friends to use its facilities. Smart means it is easy to use the equipment and allows for a greater people interaction through play. Independent means users could explore and participate in play at their own level. Safe means equipment users could explore and challenge themselves as they engage in play. Pro-active means the playground environment supports different kinds of exercise and could help minimize unnecessary fatigue. Comfort means the playground is usable by those with special physical or mental needs.
 
DOCA held public meetings, workshops, and children summer camps to gather information and opinions on the design of “Inclusive Playgrounds”. Village and neighborhood chiefs, community residents, children & the elderly, civic organizations, the handicapped, scholars and specialists participated in the meetings.  The Disabled Children's Rights Advocacy Alliance in Taiwan (台灣身心障礙兒童權利推動聯盟), Parks and Playgrounds for Children Alliance (還我特色公園行動聯盟) and Taiwan Access for All Association (行無礙資源推廣協會) were also invited to the meetings.
 
Four of the “Inclusive Playgrounds” are in Datong District: Zhaoyang Park (朝陽公園), Shude Park (樹德公園), Jinhua Park (景化公園) and Jianchen Park (建成公園); two are in Zhongshan District: Zhongan Park (中安公園) and Yongsheng Park (永盛公園).
 
Zhongan Park
 
Located behind Ambassador Hotel on Zhongshan North Road, Zhongan Park is a “Musical Forest”. It is close to an area of massage parlors for the blind. So the design teams Vision Union (景澤創意) and Wugo (無垢) built this park especially for those who could only discover the world through hearing. It has three “music box pillars” that could be turned to play music. A gigantic piano keyboard lies on the floor, connected to a patch of artificial grass with three “white dots” which could create sounds of bass drum, side drum and cymbals. Anyone who comes to the park can be a member of this playful music band.
 
Yongsheng Park
 
In Zhaoyang Park, the “Lion Button”designed by Taiwan design company Seed Spacelab (彡苗空間實驗) is a replica of the the nearby “Niukou (Button) Street,” where clothing accessories such as buttons, zippers, and lace, can be found.
 
The eyes of the the Lion are wide angle lenses and its “body” is a climber decorated with bright orange and yellow buttons. Children exercise their body strength as they carry themselves across the structure. Pull the lion’s whiskers and it roars.
 
Shude Park
 
Shude Park is next to the Lanzhou Market (蘭州市場) in Datong District. Its design team “Plan b” installed dozens of wooden pillars in Shude Park, and among them there are ladders, parallel bars, and woven climbers in different shapes. The woods all came from Taiwan and the climbers were made by local designer Tseng Jing-ting with handmade ropes.
 
Jinhua Park
 
Jinhua Park (景化公園) is near the MRT Daqiaotou Station (大橋頭) exit 3. The nearby area used to be a lotus root field. The design team Sandwich Studio (三明治工) implemented the “UFO Channel” theme in the park. There’s a rope climber, rock climber and a “UFO” that sounds when it spins. Park goers can run and play on an artificial lawn close by.
 
Yongsheng Park
 
Located next to the intersection of Minsheng East Road (民生東路) and Linsen North Road (林森北路), Yongsheng Park is a user-friendly park, especially for the physically challenged. Besides the usual slides and spring riders, those on wheelchairs will find its merry-go-round easy to use.
Its “Earth Swing (搖擺大地)” is a huge elliptical cylinder; users need to use their body strength to swing it slowly.

Jiancheng Park
 
Jiancheng Park next to the intersection of Nanjing East Road and Chengde Road, traces its history back to 1937 during the Japanese colonial period. Jiancheng was the first park especially designed for children. CNHW (禾拓規劃設計顧問有限公司) transformed it into an inclusive playground, with a four-meter high tunnel slide and a two-meter high inclusive slide. There will be three kinds of swings, a seesaw and a merry-go-round. Jiancheng Park will open to public in the Autumn of 2018.   
 
All Made in Taiwan
 
These “Inclusive Playgrounds” are all designed by local Taiwanese design teams. Except the tunnel slide which was imported from Germany, all materials and equipment were designed, produced and assembled in Taiwan. These parks are the best examples of Taiwan’s soft power.
 
No more canned parks in Taipei
 
Ko Wen-je said there used to be “canned parks” everywhere. These parks all look alike in terms of playground equipment; the designs are so conservative and boring that they limited children’s imagination and creativity. So the Taipei CIty Government invited Taiwan design teams to create new playgrounds. Ko hoped this could also help boost the design industry in Taiwan.
 
On Mayor Ko’s Facebook fan page, readers have left many positive comments in support of this Inclusive Playground policy. “Thanks to Mayor Ko, my son goes to different parks every week and has a really good time playing,” said one mother; “Very good policy; ordinary people like me can really feel the goodness”, said another. “I envy Taipei citizens who can enjoy a wholesome living environment”, “Thank you Mayor Ko for giving us such awesome parks; children enjoy playing in them.”