Formerly an ornamental square famous for its leaping impala sculpture and water feature, Ernest Oppenheimer Park had in recent times fallen into disrepair and neglect. A mismatch between the park’s design and the needs of its users had developed over the years as the demographics of the inner city had gradually transformed.
The re-imagined Ernest Oppenheimer Park is both an active pocket park and a sculpture garden. A wide meandering walkway bissects the park, activating the space with the bustle of people moving between the Rea Vaya Stations on Market and Commissioner and the shops and stalls on Joubert Street. A zig-zag path criss-crosses the walkway between sculpture plinths offering a linear narrative route, interspersed with softer areas of green ground cover beneath a shady canopy of trees. A basketball court offers young people from the surrounding area a place to shoot hoop or just hang out. A pavilion and mini amphitheatre, facing onto busy Market Street, offer a place for performance art, promotional events and small gatherings.
– Jonathan Manning, Principal, Ikemeleng Architects.