Candidate – Hungary
Submission by: Municipality of Kaposvár
Project name: Smart Park in the Heart of Downtown – Kaposvár Green City in Europe
The new public park in the city of Kaposvár, in the southwest of Hungary, was created in conjunction with the inner city rehabilitation and modernisation programme. It was opened to the public in autumn 2019. In the vicinity of the renovated historic buildings a SMART PARK with an area of over one hectare (10.660m2) was established.
The park is named after its functions: the latest generation of interactive outdoor equipment, and various information interfaces. In addition to technical innovations, the park includes high quality ecological active areas.
The approximately 800m2 (55mx15m) artificial lake has a significant impact on the climate. The aquatic plant assemblages are not only aesthetically pleasing but provide a habitat for wildlife. Environmental education is achieved through selective waste collection and solar panel powered games.
The fenced-off playground (2500m2) with all its custom designed equipment provides a safe place for children. The accessible public washrooms are equipped with changing stations. Rest areas are sheltered by trees and ornamental landscaping which makes these the favourite places for the older generation to relax.
A public park of over 1 hectare replaced the abandoned South block of the regional hospital in Kaposvár. It was established after the demolishment and removal of the buildings and paving.
Special attention was paid to preserving both built and natural values. The park is characterised by a balance between old and new, ecological and technical solutions.
Within the park, entertainment or relaxation opportunities have been created for groups of all age.
The goal set by the project was to transform a neglected, ruined area into a modern, living and liveable city environment. Cultural and environmentally conscious development were the two buzzwords during the design process.
The main focus of the project was to create a complex green area which introduces substantial new, diverse vegetation in the city centre while preserving the existing old groups of trees. With the creation of an artificial lake, aquatic and wetland plants were also introduced. The wildlife associated with the lake also increases biodiversity. In addition to insects, fish, amphibians and invertebrates, birdhouses mounted on old trees indicate that the designers of the park also had birdlife on their mind.
The park makes a connection with the main tourist area of the city through a pedestrian area. The distance between the two is only approximately 100 meters. The regional hospital buildings are situated to the north, at about 15 metres from the park, and generate significant traffic due to the regional function of the hospital. This is why a central parking lot with trees was created west of the park, in an area where worthless buildings were demolished. As a result, parking in neighbouring streets has decreased to the relief of inhabitants. The two main promenades flanking the park (in east/west and north/south directions) establish the links to the city. The modern, state-of-the art park, with all its greenery increases the value of neighbouring properties as well.
Deciduous trees provide shade in the heat of the summer, while allowing sun to shine through in the colder winter months. The artificial lake also has a significant effect on the microclimate. Evaporative cooling is one of the most efficient methods of cooling urban spaces. The water retention capacity of the park, with the lush vegetation and permeable surfaces, also has a beneficial influence on the climate, especially since heavy rains and extended dry periods are becoming more frequent.
Wellbeing of visitors / users
Formerly, a hospital occupied this site. Now the area serves the daily healing of body and soul and recharges the spirit. Wonderful playgrounds, fitness parks, a lake, trees, shrubs, grass, sunshine and air can now be found in the heart of Kaposvár.
The park provides a refreshing, calming vista to inhabitants and out-of-town visitors of the nearby hospital.
Innovative technology engages users by providing information about the city and the region and lifting the spirit of visitors with poetry, stories and songs.
Entertainment is also provided on the stage of the BábSzínTér (a puppet theatre) by local and guest performers.
The interactive playground provides entertainment for individuals or smaller groups, from the youngest to the oldest children and for playful adults. Mathematics, memory games, grammar and sport are all represented within the wide range of team contests that can be easily selected from the interactive column with the help of diagrams.
The selection, origin and quality of used products and materials (greenery and construction materials)
In addition to the existing old groups of trees (plane trees, oaks, hackberries, and spruces), rows of globose ginkgo and small-leaved linden were planted along the new paved walkways. The custom-made wooden stakes identify the 6000 trees for the Kaposvár programme, indicating the Hungarian and Latin names of the trees.
Comfortable park benches have been installed in the shade of the trees. New, spectacular ornamental beds consisting of shrubs and ornamental perennials were set up at the entry points near the quick-growing birch trees.
The watered lawn provides a nice framework for the different functions. The lawn, with its microclimatic effect, orderly appearance and green surface provides peace and serenity, while it has a significant rainwater drainage and seepage capacity, which ensures that the run-off from the newly created pavements. The structure of the artificial lake made the planting of aquatic and wetland plants possible. The shallower areas close to the edge are populated with marsh marigolds, Chinese silver grass, moneywort, and arrowhead, while the deeper areas are adorned by waterlilies.
The renovated heritage buildings provide a fantastic background to the park and fill it with cultural life. The reflection of the facade of BábSzínTér (a puppet theatre) on the surface of the lake provides a picturesque view. The square in its vicinity and the main walkways received decorative pavement whereas the inner walkways of the park have loose paving to facilitate drainage.
The overall design (landscape and optional associated buildings)
Finding a new function for the abandoned south block of the regional hospital is an important step in urban renewal. The area concerned is fairly large in relation to the scale of the city centre. With the development of architectural and natural values and with the introduction of new elements, the quality of the place created points beyond its immediate surrounding and is measurable on an urban scale.
The former chapel and nunnery were reconstructed as part of the project and has been given a cultural role. A stage, auditorium and reception area have been created in its vicinity, with seating for 150-200 spectators. When the weather is suitable for outdoor events, this part of the park is full of life. On the south, the area is bordering on the reconstructed facade of the „House of the Future” innovation centre.
The most spectacular area of the park is the artificial lake. The location was determined with the groups of existing old trees and spruces in mind. Older visitors find cosy rest areas under the canopy. Comfortable benches (with backrests) and undulating sun beds invite visitors to contemplate and enjoy the surrounding landscape with ornamental plants.
Outdoor fitness equipment is used by the old and the young. The most popular of the unique features (“information cubes” telling the story of the area, interactive furniture) is the themed playground created around the story of the morning star. The carved equipment and painted wooden surfaces are handcrafted elements with artistic value. This children’s realm designed and built specifically for the site provides an unforgettable experience for children between the ages of 3 and 12 years old. It creates a special identity for the place.
Accessible washrooms, drinking fountains and shaded rest areas make this state-of-the-art place really comfortable.
The impact on the environment (holistic, circular approach)
A significant green surface and a body of water was put in place on the formerly paved, built-in area. This has significantly increased the ecological value of the area, which is one of the most important factors in providing a liveable environment in a city.
The huge assimilating foliage of the old trees also helps filter out the dust from the air near the newly created parking lot. As the weather keeps getting warmer, the heating up of pavements by the sun can be significantly reduced by the shade of the canopies. This is one of the reasons why the semi-shaded rest areas under the trees are so popular. The rows of small-leaved linden and globose ginkgo trees planted along the paved walkways create shade and a green wall. The watered lawns have a beneficial effect balancing the inert surfaces on the neighbouring roads and parking areas, while they also have a significant rainwater drainage, seepage capacity, ensuring that the run-off from the newly created pavements stays in place. 72% of the area is water, green surface and permeable pavement.
While most modern objects provide entertainment, children often choose simple ways of spending time in the park. In addition to the planted areas the newly created artificial lake with its approximately 800 square metre surface is a popular element of the park. Children and the accompanying adults are enthralled by observing life in the lake. The deck that hangs over the surface of the lake is a perfect observation spot. Visitors can see goldfish and catfish swim by, pond skaters dance on the surface of the water, or the activity of water snails, dragonflies and frogs hiding among the reeds.
The innovative value of the project
Knowledge is preserved by 21st century innovative solutions, custom designed objects, which represent the city and its environment.
The Poetry Tree (Versfa) in front of the puppet theatre (BábSzínTér) is a custom designed interactive street furniture, a special feature of the cultural zone. It attempts to reach young people through an innovative method, bringing literary works to them through their smartphones: by scanning QR codes visitors can unlock poetry, stories and songs in both audio and visual formats.
The landscape cubes are multifunctional. The main purpose is educational. Visitors can get to know the meadows, forests, waterfronts and urban areas in Somogy county. Moreover they create a working and resting place, providing protection from the strong summer sun and from the rain. Thus, no matter what the weather is like, it is a tranquil place, where one gets to read various thematic texts and to look at the images and maps. The QR codes placed on the more traditional information boards appeal to, and encourage, the younger generation to use present-day technology to explore.
Smart benches have several functions. In addition to seating they provide USB charging, Wi-Fi access, and the popular lockers that work with number codes.
The tree with solar panels is one of the central elements of the concept of smart cities. Smartphones and USB chargers can be connected to it and to the smart benches. They also provide data on the energy production of the solar panels and on the energy use of the park.
With the completion of the complex development project both the very young and the elderly can find opportunities to rest and to explore. The success of the project is evident, since a significant number of people of all age groups visit the park every season, at all times of the day.