A Park for Everyone

A Park for Everyone

A Park for Everyone: Tom Balsley and Gerdo Aquino on the Design for Rotterdam’s Nelson Mandela Park

The first of Rotterdam, Netherlands’ “Big Seven” public investment projects, Nelson Mandela Park is poised to provide much-needed green space for the local community, which has grown considerably in recent years. Offering an inclusive, resilient public space for residents and visitors, the park will also celebrate the City’s maritime heritage and still-working waterfront.

On February 18, 2022, park designers Tom Balsley and Gerdo Aquino offered the latest vision for the planned park, formerly known as Park Maashaven, having completed the master plan in 2021.

In celebration of the park’s approval, Balsley and Aquino delivered a joint public lecture that outlines plans and program for the seven-hectare site, which will include multi-purpose lawns, overlooks, a shaded grove, and revitalized shoreline habitats. “Our process involves continuing a dialogue throughout the length of the process with the City and the community,” said Balsley. “And as we’re listening, we’re simultaneously exploring options, and studying opportunities for viewing and interaction in three dimensions.” The recent lecture is one in an evolving series of outreach efforts aimed at gathering feedback to inform near- and long-term goals for the park.

The presentation includes a conceptual “flythrough” of the park as envisioned, as well as exploded diagrams depicting its multiple facets and layers. “We believe that this park should offer something for everyone,” said Aquino. “Inclusivity is a key part of our thinking in how we shape spaces as planners and designers.”

For more on Nelson Mandela Park, check out the articles on initial unveiling covered by Building Design and Construction, and several, recently published Dutch-language articles: (translatable into English in most browsers) Open Rotterdam, Duurzaam 010, and Rotterdam.nl. Or check out our project profile.