In 2018, the Tourism and Urbanism Foundation (TUF), came up with a new initiative for the restoration and redevelopment of the Friendship Park in Gyumri. This idea was born from projects supported and implemented by the Foundation and its partners since 2015. The initiative reflects TUF’s commitment to empower the local community, foster social and economic change and contribute to the sustainable future of Gyumri and its next generations. It is a unique project, which provides a blend of commercial, social and cultural components, while building on the Public-Private Partnerships concept. The park is to become one of the anchor projects representing a rebirth for the city, which has suffered many hardships. It symbolizes gratitude to all the nations and countries that have helped Gyumri to revive following the earthquake of 1988.
THE GYUMRI FRIENDSHIP PARK aims at becoming a benchmark for sustainable green project development in Armenia. It is functional throughout the year and combines three focus areas:
URBAN DEVELOPMENT: it will significantly enhance Gyumri’s existing urban infrastructure and extend the total area of public green space. In addition, the development of the park in that area will link the historic city center to the industrial and main residential zones.
TOURISM: it will be an add to Gyumri’s existing touristic attractions and will become a unique space to host international, regional and local events. This will in turn significantly increase visitor flow to the city.
SOCIAL VENTURE: the park will become a platform to host and promote local ventures and the creative potential of Gyumri. It will become the centre of social and cultural life in the city, allowing tourists to prioritize it for their visit.
The zoning of the park’s territory relates to its immediate surroundings. Noisy leisure zones are grouped towards the east side of the park, which is surrounded by industrial areas where any noise will not disturb residents. On the south side, near the hospital, there is a quiet zone for relaxing recreation, including walking paths and seating. On the north side, closer to residential buildings, there are playgrounds for children and sports grounds for athletes for everyday use, as well as a community garden. The park area consists of three zones (City zone, Nature zone and Amusement zone), which help visitors of any age contemporaneously use the park.
In light of the importance of the project as a sustainable model for public parks to weave urban development, tourism and social venture pillars into public planning, 2021 saw the Armenian Government approve funding for the park’s public infrastructure work. This took the form of a “Local Economy and Infrastructure Development” loan program supported by the World Bank. This achievement creates a value add for the project’s key objectives of ensuring a scaled network through multi-stakeholder engagement and private-public partnerships.
TUF cooperates with international, private and public partners to ensure that the idea of friendship is put into practice throughout every phase of the project. One key partnership example has been its work with the Aznavour Foundation and the Fund for Armenian Relief in relocating residents living in makeshift housing in the area of the park. Another cooperation took place with the UNDP during the first conceptual phase of the project to develop initial conceptual ideas for the park to symbolise the idea of friendship.
In addition, the project has received in kind contributions from the Asian Development Bank, which is focused on the inclusivity of the park’s design of the park, particularly its sports area.
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