Small-sized parks planned for city dwellers

In highly urbanized areas, pocket parks are the only open public spaces that do not require large-scale redevelopment but serve people living in the vicinity.

Shanghai plans to build or renovate at least 50 “pocket parks” this year to create more green space in the city’s densely populated areas.

“Pocket parks” are smaller in size, usually anywhere between 300 and 3,000 square meters, and tucked away among high-rises or along streets. They are usually unevenly shaped, and meant to ensure every citizen finds a green piece of land within 500 meters from home, the city’s greenery authority said yesterday.

The city has 243 major parks — that number will increase to 300 by 2020 — but most of them are too far away from neighborhoods.

Given the city’s limited land resources, the government came up with the “pocket park” idea to create miniature green space, according to the Shanghai Greenery and Public Sanitation Bureau.

“The greenery authority has been building new parks at street corners or near neighborhoods for residents living nearby,” said Fang Yan, deputy director of the bureau. Exercise facilities, seats and activity areas will be added to existing gardens along with more greenery to turn them into “pocket parks.” At least 200 such pocket parks will be built or renovated by 2020.

Pocket Park, also known as “parkette,” originated in New York in its highly urbanized areas. Since then, the mini-park projects have sprung up in major cities across the United States, United Kingdom and Japan.

In Shanghai, 47 pocket parks have been built since last year, mainly in old neighborhoods.

Recently, a 500-square-meter park was built along Fuxing Road E. and Zhonghua Road in Huangpu District. Camphor, magnolia, maple, cherry and cinnamon trees have been added to the former garden.

In Hongkou District, a 408-square-meter mini park has been created on Lintong Road, featuring delicate small plants, walking paths and a shikumen-style stone-gate entrance.

There is also a trend among district governments to turn illegal developments into small parks. Many residents, who initially refused to demolish illegal structures, eventually came around to support the campaign, the bureau said.

The mini park on Wuzhou Road near the North Bund area in Hongkou, for instance, is only about 50 square meters — slightly bigger than the size of two large hotel rooms — but it boasts various plants and flowers, exercise facilities and a walking path. It was created over a 40-year-old row of shabby temporary houses.

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