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09-01-22 | Department

Hillside Play

One of the first public playgrounds in Rwanda
by David Fletcher, Fletcher Studio

Fletcher Studio of San Francisco, California, along with other landscape professionals and See Far Housing, donated their time and expertise to creating the Ziggy Playground in Kigali, Rwanda, to commemorate Fred S. Findling for his civil rights efforts after surviving the Holocaust.
Built into the side of a hill, the play space called for creativity and thoughtful design. Pictured during the grand opening, beach balls were strewn to celebrate the area's first public play space.

Marked as one of the first public playgrounds in Rwanda, Ziggy Playground was funded by See Far Housing. In Rwanda, there are few playgrounds and soccer fields for children to explore imaginative play and there is a lack of affordable housing. See Far built sustainably designed modern multi-family homes, priced within the means of low to middle-income families in the City of Kigali. They approached Fletcher Studio of San Francisco, California to design a public playground and the future soccer field on a challenging hillside site. The Ziggy Playground was named to honor Fred S. Findling. Findling was affectionately known as "Ziggy" and fought for civil rights in the U.S. and was a constant champion of the underdog. Fred was a survivor of the Holocaust who never lost his childhood spark but unfortunately died in 2019 at 88 years old before the project was completed.

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Through Fletcher Studio's pro-bono Hope + Space program, the team collaborated on the planning, design, and realization of the Phase 1 playground. The studio sets aside 4 percent of its profit from the previous year for pro-bono projects.
Fletcher Studio worked with See Far, through overseas zoom calls, and used collaborative design methods to develop the design. Fletcher Studio conducted grading studies to design a cost-effective topography that provides access to the playground and to the future soccer field. The studio also researched local building materials and regional plant palettes to develop the plan. Pavers were cast on-site for the pathways, and local stone was harvested for the retaining walls. Materials such as concrete drainpipes, up-cycled tires, and locally available play equipment were integrated into the design. QR code stickers that read "Scan to Bring Ziggy to Life" were added around the playground so that park-goers could
hear his story first-hand.

The project is seeking funding for the completion of the second phase, which includes plantings and a soccer field. San Francisco Community Power is still accepting donations towards the completion of the project.

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