Background Story
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Kids playing at the Urban County Fair. Original Peace Park location 2014.
Kids playing at the Urban County Fair. Original Peace Park location 2014.

The North Philly Peace Park was founded on February 26th, 2012 on several vacant parcels of land directly across the street from the Blumberg Housing Projects. The founding members were a socially engaged group of Blumberg and neighborhood residents, activists,

designers, organizers, and educators, who formed an ecological campus that sought to collectively solve many of the neighborhood’s critical issues. The group utilized their collective resources, knowledge, and skills and designed a campus that included a fence-free organic farm, an Earthship-style pavilion and created after-school and community programs like the Urban County Fair. In 2015, the North Philly Peace Park was displaced by PHA development plans and fought these actions aggressively from 2015-2017, resulting in a move to its current location along Jefferson street and gaining land security. From 2016- 2018 the Park has been engaged in the redevelopment process with partners from the University of Pennsylvania School of Design, student group Diverse Design, Habitat for Humanity, Haverford College, and Youth Build. In 2018 the park will finalize this process by completing an off-grid facility to further complement its programs and prove a proof of concept/ model for equitable design practice.

Current Activities and Site Plan The park has grown into a popular charitable eco campus and passive park that provides free programs to the greater Philadelphia community. It is a grassroots

organization with a dedicated volunteer staff and a membership base strongly rooted in surrounding neighborhoods. The programs are supported by strategic partnerships that strengthen the four main program areas. 

These community park programs areas provides the following:

  • Organic + Sustainable Urban Farming

  • STEAM based educational programs

  • Community programs & partnerships, which include      fairs, festivals and health and wellness activities.

  • Green Wall Street: a local entrepreneur incubator, green workforce development program, makerspace & marketplace.

  • Benefit corporation: a burgeoning community design + equitable development corporation- which aims to repeat the parks success in other neighborhoods facing high lot vacancy rates, gentrification, poverty, food insecurity, displacement, and violence.

Final Report NPPP
Community design session led by Diverse Design students of PennDesign, 2016.

Park members, staff and the general Sharswood community have been working with graduate design students for two years in a design /build process. Phase 1 of the redevelopment process began with the landscape design which was completed in 2016 with partners Habitat for Humanity and Lowes Home

Improvement. For Phase 1 of the pavilion construction process, the community along with students, professionals, facilitated tours,

conferences, raised funds, and several planning workshops towards construction. This process has produced three versions of concept design

documents which collectively represent the parks vision for a sustainable building and educational facility on its campus. The project has grown from a student led initiative to a professional design project in partnership with Bohlin Chywinski Jackson Architects. The final design is based on the following overall ideals that were established during the student led phase of this project.

The park has adopted an Afro futurist approach for the design of the building that will merge and highlight continuities between ancient African architecture from countries of the western coast of the continent and modern African American architecture typologies. Past technological or design innovations from ancient and modern west African culture are embedded within the design context. The primary roof structure and open floor plan is inspired by The Oshun Temple located in Osogbo Sacred Grove in Niger. The framing of solar progress that animates and illuminates religious symbology along the east axes of the Temple of Edfu. The porch became an American architectural form following the shotgun houses built by African slaves imported from traditional homes in West Africa. It provides a place for leisure, gathering, socializing, and contributes to the life of American urban areas. These typologies are integrated by the African concept of polychronic time, which places one at the center of the experience to move with time. Light metaphorically becomes the source of knowledge and becoming. Sunlight passes through the roof onto the porch and extends into the landscape merging the African with the American and architecture with the landscape.  Light cast onto the porch to at marked intervals to commemorate historical events of African American history, Philadelphian history, and the history of North Philly Peace Park. ​

Sacred Grove of Oshun, Niger.
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Phase II Peace Park Pavilion. BCJ Architects 2019.