I often find myself rushing from one place and another for my jobs and study and between these rush I would stop in one of the parks available in my town, Bandar Seri Begawan. The Bandar had plenty of green spaces, most of which are quite permeated with Islamic designs, especially with recent additions. There are much emphasis on Islamic design, playing along with Malay motifs, in buildings, public spaces and even recreational parks.
I find myself alone in the middle of the night, after one of my nightly study sessions, rushing to my work place only to realize that I am a few hours too early. Too lazy and tired to go back home, I went to a convenience store to buy some snacks and went to a park in the city center, close to where I work.
The official name of the park is Taman Jubli Perak Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah or in English, Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Silver Jubilee Park. It opened to the public during the celebration of the Sultan’s birthday, 15th July in the year 2005. It is a fairly large park with amenities such as children’s playground, gazebos and an exercise yard equipped with simple gym equipments such as pull up bars and stationary bikes (which, unfortunately, many fell into a state of disrepair or succumbed to attack of vandals). The park itself lies near a river bank, which one can walk alongside. It used to be some sort of jetty for the residents in the Water Village going to the city center. However, I rarely see boats coming here anymore, although many Bruneians come here in the late afternoon for their daily jog.
In the middle of the park features a large water fountain sitting on top of a terraced platform. The fountain supposed to symbolically represent the Sultan, with the flowing water supposed to mean his overflowing kindness to his subjects . Whoa.
Anyway, as I said before, there are plenty of what I like to think as ‘tributes’ to Islam, represented in the form of Islamic geometric art and architecture. For one, the main water fountain in the center of the park features Islamic arches with spiral columns, which is very similar to ones found in the Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque, the state mosque of the country. The gazebos dotting the park are hexagonal , with similarly fashioned columns and arches.
But perhaps the most interesting are the walkways. At the entrance of the park (Actually, there are no entrance in the traditional sense, but the nearest to the basic amenities and offices, one can enter the park from almost any direction) there is a curious circular mound that features a large circular 12-point star. From there going to the main fountain, the walkway is decorated with a pattern of 12-pointed star with squares between them, featuring a stylized form of the 8-pointed star. I reckon the designer of the park did some modifications from a traditional pattern so it can be utilized for a walkway. Should the pattern be repeated or tessellated, it would be very imperfect, since the squares and the 8-pointed stars doesn’t actually fit correctly.
Even the sidewalks are not spared! Though it is done in a simple, paint-on-concrete method, the sidewalks features the ubiquitous 8-pointed stars, in its regular form.