Kharkiv, a dynamic one-and-a-half-million-people city, a former industrial and political hub of Soviet Ukraine, had been experiencing a desperate lack of decently-equipped and well-maintained community-use parkland areas.
Sarzhyn Yar park, originally created in 18th century, has traditionally been a place where residents of nearby residential areas get their drinking water, coming from the underground springs.
It is one of the few locations in the central part of Kharkiv, where people can hide themselves from the bustle of the city and switch to a quieter mode of being, while enjoying the natural beauty of the place. However, before the reconstruction project, the area was largely in a sorry state with old asphalt pathways crumbling away and much of the now-usable area simply overgrown with shrubs and bushes.
There are no lakes or rivers in this part of the city, so those who love sunbathing come to Sarzhyn Yar to get tanned, often after having a plunge in one of the two stone baths with cold spring water running through. This area was the first one to undergo renovation. We also created more comfortable changing rooms with a tilted wall for sunbathing. One idea for improving the place was utilizing the underwater spring further. A dam system allowed us to create man-made lakes and preserve all the trees by grouping them into small islands. We used the technology of our ancestors and covered the bottom of lakes with clay while strengthening the banks with willow branches. This helped us to make these lakes eco-friendly and with respect to nature around. A network of footpaths around the lakes was created for the public to enjoy the picturesque views. With cold spring water directed to the lakes, the temperature in this ravine-located park is now 4 degrees lower than in the rest of the city. We wanted the new Sarzhyn Yar to cater for citizens of various age groups, tastes and interests. Sarzhyn Yar became the first place in the city to feature overpasses for bikes combined with a system of separate lanes for bikes and pedestrians. Sports areas with a range of fitness equipment and soft rubber foam floor nearby the spring are suitable for young and old, regardless of their fitness level. Two themed children’s playgrounds became the places where whole families can chill and have a good time. One of the playgrounds is wooden, for kids to explore shapes and space. Another one, featuring volcanos, caves, hidden dinosaurs for excavation, trampolines and other activities, was designed for older children.
Finally, Sarzhyn Yar paths were extended to connect it to another major park of the city – Kharkiv Central Gorky Park – thus uniting these two areas in one system for the citizens to enjoy.
Receiving the Grand Prix at ‘The First Ukrainian National Awards for Landscape Architecture and Garden Design 2020’ was a welcome indicator that SBM’s efforts to enhance city space were recognized and appreciated by the local community.