Ghana born Kobina Banning (he was cited by the Phoenix New Times as 100 of the most cultural influential people in Phoenix) is founder and lead of Fusion Architecture (FA), an architectural group based in Phoenix.
The Fusion Architecture team has come by Arcosanti several times to look at the place and engage in discussions with some of the staff. Their work is diverse and experimental yet they hope to have a pragmatic impact. Most recently they were featured in a article by the Phoenix New Times regarding their submission to The Netherlands’ Afrika Museum and African Architecture Matters which made the finals of the “Blueprints of Paradise”, competition.
While FA was at Arcosanti, we had a chance to discuss their vision on the future of urban Africa. As their research notes, the challenges are many and includes effectively managing the rapid rise in people living in Ghana as a whole as well as urban areas. Their perspective on this is a human scale, oriented densification process that includes taller buildings, but interspersing that verticalization with more open space and community aspects. A key component to this is helping develop thriving marketplaces for local commerce.
Garden City Park is plan for a 1.7-mile-long, 19-square-acre Linear Park. It is to be located in Banning’s native Kumasi, Ghana, West Africa and “incorporates the area’s Ashanti-established traditions while taking into account the modern hustle and bustle of Ghana’s second-largest city.”
The proposed site, located at an abandoned spot next to a disused railway station, lies adjacent to the Kumasi Central Market, an area that’s so mammoth in size and all-encompassing in products that locals have joked that you can even find human body parts for sale (which is a definitely an urban myth, though niche items, such as vulture heads, are available for purchase). The park would act as a welcome reprieve to the urban chaos of the Central Market.
The forward-thinking design of Garden City Park is bold yet realistic, and also considers overall sustainability while incorporating solar-powered applications in the perpetually warm region. The design includes a public transportation system, an art gallery, a community football (aka soccer) field, and a “Living Kiosk” project that modernizes the street vendors’ shed-like spaces that populate nearly every roadside in Ghana. (FA’s “Living Kiosk” was also submitted to the Afrika Museum competition; it received an honorable mention designation.)