KARACHI: For a neighbourhood dotted with concrete structures and crowded shops, a breathing space is finally emerging, courtesy the Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture (IVSAA).
As part of its community service work, the school’s architecture department is developing the Nusserwanjee Park, next to the building of the same name.
The school adopted the park in 2010 under the City District Government Karachi’s (CDGK) ‘Adopt a Park’ scheme. Akin to the IVS’s decade-old Sculpture Park project, which was adopted as a resource for fine arts students and aficionados, the school intends to maintain Nusserwanjee Park for the community.
“Community service is the cornerstone of our school’s philosophy,” the school’s executive director Samina Raees Khan told The Express Tribune. “Since there is no owner of this school, the community serves us. Our executive committee tries to find ways to serve the community in return.”
The park, which is still unfinished, is spread over 4,085 square yards and is located between the Indus Valley School and Madrassah Darul Uloom Sulemania. Students of both educational facilities have been using the park as a recreational spot.
“I appreciate this initiative on nature conservation by Indus Valley,” said Nadir Bhanji, a resident. “This will be another recreational facility for local residents and will contribute to nurturing a healthy and harmonious community.”
The ambitious plan for the park includes a walkway, soccer field, cricket pitch, provision for basketball games and exhibition spaces along with parking areas.
“Our fine arts students visit Hala to train craftsmen for free, and so architecture students take the reconstruction of this park as our community service project,” said student Fahad Siddiqui.
According to Siddiqui, the park site had been abandoned and was used as a garbage dump. “The park will now certainly add to the clean environment and provide visual support to the school’s heritage building,” said Siddiqui.
“The park site was becoming an aesthetical insult for the national and international tourists to the school’s premier edifice, the Nusserwanjee Building,” director Khan said. The building, she explained, is a 100-year-old Kharadar landmark, named after Karachi philanthropist Jamshed Nusserwanjee. It was relocated, stone by stone, to Clifton ten years ago.
Khan recalled that Ardeshir Cowasjee and several other philanthropists helped the school in obtaining the parks that it now manages. “Then donations continue to come in the form of cement, blocks, concrete and cash,” she added.
While philanthropists stepped up, others backed out of their commitments. According to Khan, the CDGK failed to supply sand and fertiliser, as did the Karachi Electric Supply Company, who had committed to illuminate the project. It backed out after an initial show of enthusiasm. Donors stepped in for the former, and Philips Pakistan Private Limited has been contacted to help with the lighting.
The park will also have a touch of the Indus Valley civilisation, as only ‘indigenous plantations’ have been selected, which include gulmohars (Royal Poinciana), red almond trees and eucalyptus for example.
Khan estimates that another Rs1 million is needed to finish the park. “We are very much interested in setting up a permanent endowment fund not just for this project but for future community service projects as well,” she added.
For donations, contact Executive Director Samina Raees Khan at [email protected]
Published in The Express Tribune, January 17th, 2012.