UJ students’ designs to breathe a creative spark to Slovo Park

An army of 50 students of the University of Johannesburg’s (UJ) Department of Architecture together with an organisation called “1:1” (one to one) Agency of Engagement will be out in force in Slovo Park this week as part of an innovative community outreach initiative to provide the community’s children a safe place to play and escape from the harsh reality of this informal settlement.

Starting today, Monday, 21 October 2013, the students will spend five days building a 150 square metre, tangible, sustainable, eco-friendly playground for the children of Slovo Park, an informal settlement bordering Eldorado Park and Soweto. The students visited the settlement where a highly organised community forum allocated the space for the park. It is clear from the mapping that the children of the settlement have no place to call their own and play safely in this dusty and hot precinct.

The students were able to learn what play elements children like, when they played, how often, and what aspects they could incorporate when they build a playground. The information was influential in developing designs for a playground. Based on their visit, the students identified the obvious benefit of building the playground in a location that is accessible for the whole community and easily visible, promoting supervision.

The students were prompted to use their design skills to seed ideas for improving safety for the children and better use of space. The students took their action research back to UJ’s design studios for a facilitated creative response to the needs and issues witnessed by them at Slovo Park.

The students’ research and ideas were presented to the community and other stakeholders. The panel considered ways to make these ideas a reality as part of a community outreach initiative and the panel selected three designs. These designs were incorporated into one design. The playground uses an existing broken truck as the design generator and is complimented by a tyre mound and concrete “hop-scotch” element, two-tiered seating for informal soccer and some landscaping to soften the environment and create shade from the pelting sun.

“It’s pretty amazing,” says Mr Denver Hendricks, project leader and UJ Architecture lecturer. “It goes up quickly when you have so many volunteers in place, but it really takes some time for planning. We are a teaching institution, so our main objective is to provide a hands-on teaching component for our students. But, as in most professions, there is also the necessity to serve a public need. This initiative, however small, is doing exactly that. The students are getting real-world experience by assessing, evaluating and designing concepts that addresses a specific need. They learn about their future profession and in the process make valuable contributions to our surrounding communities,” he says.



Note to the journalist/news editor/producer

Mr Denver Hendricks, project leader and UJ Architecture lecturer, will be available for interviews on request. He can be contacted on 011 559 1155/ 083 396 5302 or email denverh@uj.ac.za. High resolution images highlighting the progress over the five day period will be available on request.



1. Denver collects all shutterboard from Builders Warehouse at 9am.

2. 9.30 Delivers to UJ (Ruben will arrange a yard space)

3. All UJ students begin cutting all shutterboard and assembling the smaller ones. Larger ones get numbered and packed flat. (I have all the nails, screws and hoop iron already)

4. Marina Collect T-shirts and water from Lynn Padyachee at Maropeng Building 3rd Floor.



1. 8.30 Bus leaves UJ with students + Dewald / Britz/ Denver with a bakkie delivers all shutter boards to site for assembly

2. Tyre group assemble tyres into place & Ruben sets out

3. 10am (hopefully) Builders Warehouse delivers A. Steel Mesh B. steel rods C. DPM E. Battens

4. 1pm Concrete arrives to pour slab 36m3

5. Marketing peeps take photos

6. Concrete sets and students embellish with bottles and tops

7. 3pm Bus leaves for UJ



1. 8.30 am Bus leaves

2. Fit top shutter boxes for PPC to pur 5 m3

3. Concrete comes at 1pm. Pours

4. Students embellish and shape

5. 3pm Bus leaves



1. Strip all shutterboards

2. Powerfloat

3. Students paint areas with Plascon paint



Playground complete