In a middle-class residential neighborhood North Karachi, Muhammadi Park is one of the 11 parks that show up on google maps. It is different from all other parks of the area because of the purpose it is being used for. A low-budget school based on a 240 square yard plot, Al-Hidayat Academy, uses Muhammadi Park as a playground illegally. The school, consisting of almost 1300 students, barely has enough space to contain the students, hence lacks space for a proper playground. Al-Hidayat Academy has managed to overcome this problem by conducting its sports periods in Muhammadi Park. These students combined with the neighborhood children who play in the park in the evening make it a significant public space of the neighborhood, but the lack of maintenance has led to Muhammadi Park becoming a dumping ground for trash and unsuitable for children to play in. We initiated the project with the goal in mind to get the park renovated in a way that it gets utilized to its maximum, and improves the quality of play and relaxation for its users. But as we looked at the problem from a design lens and dug deeper, the problem became more complex and wicked. With the help of writers like Manzini, Meadows and Thackara, we tried to understand the problem and come to a sustainable, economical (re)solution. The process was bottom-up and included conducting workshops with children, talking to reluctant government officials and interviewing residents. A case study was created in the end to capture the progress and to make the process available for people interested in learning of about civic stewardship.
Abiha Batool is a fourth year student of Communication and Design at Habib University. Her interests are in the fields of Urbanism, Photography and Journalism. Her final year thesis brings together all her interests as she tries to investigate if Karachi has become a post-cosmopolitan city. Previously her papers were selected for two acedemic conferences at NED University and at a design conference in Berlin. Abiha is also an alumni of Stanford University’s international Honors Program.