Share this article

Continuing on its mission to bring green places of play to neglected parts of Johannesburg, City Parks will be creating a green lung in Pimville, in Soweto.
CITY Parks is perfecting the art of creating parks, from wasteland to lush oasis, in lightning quick time – called extreme parks.

Children have a good time at the Diepkloof ExtremeParkChildren have a good time at the Diepkloof ExtremeParkThe first, established in 2007 in Wilgeheuwel took 24 hours to build. It was followed by the Diepkloof park in 2008, built in 24 hours; the park in Protea Glen in 2009, which took six hours; and the Claremont Park in 2010, also built in 24 hours.
Now, it is planning to build a new park from scratch in Pimville, Soweto, in just half a day. The park will be built on 17 April, supervised by City Parks staff and with help from learners from the local school and community members.

The team will create a mini soccer field and will install play equipment. “We will start early ... we will have people assisting in planting lawn, setting up benches, and installing equipment,” explains the City Parks spokesperson, Jenny Moodley.

City Parks’ extreme parks are dotted across areas of Joburg that were historically neglected in greening campaigns, in the west and in Soweto. This is part of the utility’s strategy to create beautiful surrounds and improve quality of life.

Moodley says these parks form an important part of the community, because they give children a place to play and an environment for adults to relax and socialise. So successful has the extreme parks project been in its four years, that it won gold in the United Nations’ International Liveable Communities (LivCom) awards, specifically for the Diepkloof Xtreme Park.

That facility is one of the busiest parks in the city. After school, youngsters come to swing and play games, while adults relax on the benches. Young residents also get to nurture their talents – every afternoon a team of young soccer players, the Diepkloof United Brothers, practise at a mini soccer field at the park.

“We love practising here because the field has better facilities compared to local fields,” explains the team’s coach, Thabang Maduba.

The Wilgeweuwel Park is the first ExtremePark to be created in the cityThe Wilgeheuwel Park is the first ExtremePark to be created in the city“I want to play for Orlando Pirates after passing my matric,” adds Sfiso Khumalo, who is on the team. Maduba says the park is a favourite spot for the locals. “We gather here every weekend to watch soccer matches.”
Diepkloof Xtreme Park
The Diepkloof park was officially opened in 2008, after it was built in 24 hours by City Parks with the help of workers from Joburg Water and Johannesburg Roads Agency, as well as community members.

It has splash pools, a mini soccer field, a multipurpose natural amphitheatre and ablution facilities. There is a big screen installed by Township TV, where the community can watch sports matches or education programmes.

At the heart of the park is the Vuyani Mabaxa statue. Mabase was an ANC activist who was killed by apartheid police in 1991.

Wilgeheuwel Park
The first extreme park to be created by City Parks and its partners was Wilgeheuwel Extreme Park. It opened on 8 June 2007, to mark World Environmental Week.

The 1,22ha area was developed in 24 hours, setting a world record at the time. Building a park this size would normally take three to six months.

Located on the corner of Nic Diedrichs Boulevard and Florin Road, it has an attractive fountain, landscaping and play equipment, and mosaic footpaths.

Protea Glen Park
Opened in 2009, the Protea Glen extreme park was the second to be built, but this time in a new record of six hours.

Protea GlenThe Protea Glen ExtremePark, built in just six hoursLocated near the child abuse centre, COPES-SA, the park has been fitted with a fountain, a mini soccer field, a playing area and a braai area. It was sponsored by the non-profit organisation Pangaea, a programme aimed at improving the lives of the Protea Glen community and participating youth.
Claremont Park
Characterised by a beautiful lush green lawn and bright murals in vivid yellows, reds and blues, Claremont Park opened in 2010. It services more than 700 homes.

It was developed in 24 hours with the help of 650 learners from Helpmekaar College in Braamfontein. Facilities include a fountain, a mini soccer field, a playing area and a braai area.

The utility has even taken is expertise south, helping to build a park in Mthatha, in Eastern Cape in October 2009. With City Parks expertise and a local workforce, the park was built in a day.

Moodley says the extreme parks project is cost-effective, saves time and also hastens service delivery. “We want to stand out when it comes to service delivery, so it is these kinds of projects that will ensure effective services to the community.”

She also explains that when it comes to maintenance, the local communities are actively involved in ensuring that the parks are maintained and are well taken care off. “Our aim is to get communities to buy in – and the response has been awesome, as most of the members have shown commitment in taking care of these spaces.”

Community ownership is keen. “Members have the responsibility of ensuring that parks are clean, and at all times we encourage them to report damaged facilities, so they can be repaired.”

Related stories:

Kids learn about wetlands
Claremont gets its own park
Xtreme Park takes gold in China
Diepkloof gets its extreme park
Countdown to extreme park
Green park built in just six hours
Extreme park open for play
Jozi expertise goes south