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Kits for Kids: involving the youngest citizens in participatory planning

Category: ⚐ EN+Centro Histórico Abierto+creativity+Cuenca Red+ecosistema urbano+educación+participación+Plan CHA+Plan Encarnación Más

prova-con-sfumature

As you may know, in our ‘toolkit’ for the participatory processes we usually carry out in parallel to our urban projects, there are often some materials we specifically conceive to allow the participation of children and teenagers.  As part of our commitment towards inclusive processes we aim to target different social groups in our activities; especially that part of civic society that usually doesn’t have a voice in the collective debate about urban issues. Children have a particularly honest and imaginative look, and trying to understand a society or culture through their eyes is a privilege we keep enjoying project after project.

In particular, during our four latest projects in South America we detected this specific need to involve young population in participatory processes and we begun to design specific ‘kits’ for kids. As a result, we now have four different versions, developed in close relationship with the local context but also with many common features in mind. These ‘children participation kits’ are designed as a series of A4 or A3 paper sheets and they are explicitly designed to be easily reproducible. All the kits you can see in this post were used during the activities with children carried out by ecosistema urbano and our local collaborators in the schools and children’s centers of the city where the projects took place.

The different versions of these kits share the same aims:

  • Incline children and teenagers towards the urban development of their city through reflection and creativity, making them more aware of what is happening around them and improving their own ability to understand and act upon it.
  • Involve both children and their families. The activities in which kids participate —and the results they generate— attract the interest of parents and other family members who otherwise may not have the opportunity to approach the ongoing planning or design process.
  • Communicate the results; imaginative children’s eyes have the regenerative and exciting potential to bring freshness and friendliness to a process people often see as “serious” and complicated. These ‘kits’ allow us to channel that communicative potential.

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Exuma Garden of Dreams

Category: ⚐ EN+ecosistema urbano+sustainability+technologies+urban social design

Sobrevolando el Caribe

Puedes ver la versión en español de este post aquí.

Exuma is a district of the Bahamas, consisting of over 360 islands (or cays). The largest of the cays is Great Exuma, which is 37 mi (60 km) in length. The capital and largest city in the district is George Town founded 1793 and located on Great Exuma. The Tropic of Cancer runs across a beach close to the city. The entire island chain is 130 mi (209 km) long and 72 sq. mi (187 km²) in area.

Last February, Ecosistema urbano has started a cooperation with the project A Sustainable future for Exuma: Environmental Management, Design, and Planning, a multi-year ecological planning project as a collaboration among the Government of the Bahamas, the Bahamas National Trust and Harvard University Graduate School of Design (GSD).

Situación de Exuma

The location of Exuma

The goal is to facilitate the design and management of a more sustainable future for the Exuma archipelago, and The Bahamas more generally.
The project has two parallel and mutually informing components: research and education. These components work to inform the development of proposals and interventions as well as the building of capabilities for local empowerment.

Resumen del trabajo de campo - Fuente: Exuma Topics

Field work summary – Source: Exuma Topics

Ecosistema Urbano’s role, within the overall framework of the project, has been to design a series of activities and workshops to promote dialogue within the local community, reflecting on the future of the islands and publicizing the existence and content of this future project. As a final outcome of this debate, there is a need to implement a catalytic intervention in the public space of Georgetown, as a sign of change and transformation for the future of the island.

While interacting within the local community, we obtained key information about how residents feel, what their expectations, perceptions and needs are, etc…The debate essentially stood between two scales: the general area of ​​Exuma and the local environment of George Town, the main town of the district, where most social activity takes place.

Among the many topics that emerged, some are as important as food, energy supply, education, waste, water, transport, tourism, identity or infrastructure.

There have been great moments of collective reflection on the present and future of this beautiful and fragile environment, and it has been particularly interesting to listen to the younger generation, who despite their young age, have a very clear vision of what are the challenges and problems they face to improve their future prospects.

Llegando a Gran Exuma

The toolkit and workshops that have been implemented to probe the wishes and aspirations of the local community are as follows:

1. Street photo tour

Our friend and extraordinary photographer, Emilio P. Doiztua, accompanied us on this trip, making a great record of many of the participants and activities.
We thought it was important to collect the testimonies of those who wanted to participate in more organized activities, but also of those who preferred to express their ideas spontaneously in the street, just off the Church or the market. People were very open to participate and eager to answer our questions.

Algunas de las fotografías tomadas durante el "tour"

Some of the photographs taken during the “tour”

2. Creative workshops

During the week we have been active in the primary schools of St. Andrew’s, Moss Town, George Town, Williams Town and the LN Coakley High School, working with young people between 7 and 18 years. In parallel there have been two meetings with adults, both in St. Andrew’s Community Center.

We designed a set of 2 questions, as a triggering exercise, using the colors red and blue, to symbolize the changes needed and the desired dreams respectively. Each participant was interviewed and answered these two simple questions, as an individual exercise and then proceeded to the collective exercise, in groups of 4 or 5 people.

Azul y rojo, sueños y cambios

Blue and red, dreams and changes

Many and varied were the answers, and it has been very interesting to see the clarity of ideas of the youngest (7-10 years) who suggested changes and proposed ideas fluently, both about their immediate surroundings (their school, their neighborhood, their town) as well as for the broader context, Exuma.

At the end of each workshop, through a simple origami exercise, the red and blue pages symbolizing the desired changes and dreams for the future, were converted into petals to later become paper flowers.

Plantillas usadas para las propuestas y el origami

Templates used for the proposals and the origami – click to see and download in high resolution

Proceso de plegado del origami

Folding origami

For the collective exercises we worked with aerial photos, words, producing collages and staging. There has been a reflection to 3 scales: Exuma, Georgetown and at a more local scale, around a vital public space in town, the daily most frequented place by children, youth and families.

"The park", el principal espacio público de Georgetown

“The park”, the main public space in Georgetown

This space is a natural meeting place for the teenagers and has got a great potential as a space for social interaction on the island due to its proximity to Lake Victoria and for being in the center of Georgetown.

Ubicación de este "parque" en Georgetown

Location of this “park” in Georgetown

features and allow it to be more active, inclusive and comfortable public space. Some of the ideas collected included: shade, playgrounds, street furniture, water, wifi, stands, community gardens, garden, sports facilities, cultural events, concerts, etc.

Añadiendo propuestas al panel de exposición

Adding proposals to the exhibition panel

Puesta en común

Presentation

Puesta en común

Presentation

Trabajando en los "pétalos"

Working on the “petals”

Algunos niños posando con sus propuestas

Some kids with their ideas

Aprendiendo y enseñando a plegar el origami

Learning and teaching how to fold the papers

Some “flowers” start to appear

Mostrando el resultado

Showing the result

In a local highschool

Using the digital application

Using the digital application

Adults workshop

Workshop with adults, both tourists and locals

Sharing results and reflections

Sharing results and reflections

3. Digital Exuma: www.exumadreams.org

As in previous occasions, and after adapting the graphics, we used Whatif [Edit 2015: now called local in] for digitally collecting ideas from participants. The resulting platform www.exumadreams.org, is and will remain active for the next few months as an open communication channel with all those who want to maintain the dialogue and continue to participate.

For those of you who are not familiar with the tool, Whatif is a web and mobile application designed to the publication of geolocated messages: Users write their ideas, opinions or proposals in 140 characters and classified by category and location so that they can be consulted, valued and shared in real time. We developed it as a tool to assist public participation processes and collective creativity, facilitating the tasks of consultation, exploration and visualization of a wide variety of data.
The application is open source and available for free download on the official website, which will soon be announcing a new, improved version.

exumadreams con whatif - captura de la pantalla principal

exumadreams on whatif – screenshot of the main page

exumadreams con whatif - captura de la entrada al formulario

exumadreams on whatif – screenshot of the entry form

exumadreams con whatif - captura de la vista de mapa

exumadreams on whatif – screenshot of the map view

exumadreams con whatif - captura de la vista de mensajes

exumadreams on whatif – screenshot of the messages view

exumadreams con whatif - captura de la vista de etiquetas

exumadreams on whatif – screenshot of the tags view

www.exumadreams.org

4. Origami garden of exuma dreams- Jardín de los sueños

The last day of our stay, we arranged an installation with all the ideas compiled during the entire process, an ephemeral and symbolic collection of wishes for Exuma, George Town and the public space of the city. A red and blue paper flower garden, each containing 5 petals with different ideas and desires embedded.

The Garden of Dreams allowed us to show the local community the work done throughout the process of workshops and activities, while temporarily transform a public space in Georgetown, drawing attention to the need to revitalize this space.

Boceto de concepto para la instalación

Concept drawing for the installation

La "flor" resultante

The resulting “flower”…

... y las flores formando un jardín

… and the garden these flowers form.

Personas visitando la instalación

People visiting the installation

Personas visitando la instalación

People visiting the installation

Vista nocturna de la instalación

Night view of the installation

Vista nocturna de la instalación

Night view of the installation

Otra vista nocturna de la instalación

Another night view of the installation

Now we are back and the ‘lab’ work begins. It is necessary to process all the collected material and transform the hopes and dreams of the citizens of Georgetown designing a catalytic intervention for this important public space for the community life.

More information about the project:
www.sustainableexuma.org
www.exumatopics.org/about

More pictures about the project at their Facebook page

El equipo visitante, de izquierda a derecha: Gareth Doherty, Jose Luis Vallejo, Belinda Tato, Jose María Ortiz y Mariano Gomez

The visiting team, left to right: Gareth Doherty, Jose Luis Vallejo, Belinda Tato, Jose María Ortiz and Mariano Gomez

Cheers from Exuma!

Cheers from Exuma!

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Jugando con cartón | eu:KIDS

Category: ⚐ ES+eu:kids

Carton

La mejor forma de entender los espacios es representándolos y creándolos. Mediante un dibujo, con piezas de construcción o en forma de maqueta. Incluso haciendo uno su propia cabaña con mantas y sábanas en algún rincón de casa, es sencillo y divertido. Los ejemplos a continuación muestran otro de tantos sistemas que consiste en jugar y construir con cartón, y que viene muy a cuento dadas las fechas.

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Museum of Childhood, un espacio para los niños en pleno Londres | eu:KIDS

Category: ⚐ ES+art+city+creativity+design+eu:kids

Museum of Childhood, London, UK

Museum of Childhood, London, UK

A pocos pasos de la estación de metro de Bethnal Green está la primera sede del Victoria & Albert Museum que hoy alberga el mismo museo dedicado a la infancia: ¡el Museum of Childhood!

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Energy Carousel | eu:KIDS

Category: ⚐ ES+espacio público+eu:kids

Como inauguración de la sección eu:KIDS queremos enseñaros un elemento de elaboración propia. ¡El carrusel de la energía ya es real!

ENERGY-CAROUSEL10

El proyecto surgió gracias a la invitación del Centro de Artes Visuales de Dordrecht (CBK) y la oficina holandesa Carve.nl para que diez equipos participasen en el diseño de la nueva plaza Governeursplein de la ciudad de Dordrecht. sigue leyendo

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Ciudades para los niños | ¡Nueva sección EU:KIDS!

Category: ⚐ ES+eu:kids

EU-KIDS-portada

Bajar a la calle a jugar con los amigos, mola. Que te den las diez en verano correteando por el barrio, mola. Patinar o montar en bici por una calle que es tuya entera porque la han cortado el domingo, mola.

En Ecosistema Urbano creemos que una parte muy importante del trabajo sobre el desarrollo de las ciudades es hacer que éstas funcionen también para los niños… lo que suele hacer que mejoren también para el resto de sus habitantes. Desde aprender a moverse y orientarse o poder jugar, hasta ayudar con sus propias manos a mejorar sus barrios, son actividades que permitirán a los niños disfrutar, valorar y posteriormente transformar los lugares donde viven. Facilitar esas experiencias durante su infancia les convertirá en los futuros responsables de unas ciudades mucho más humanas, habitables… y “molonas”.

Internet está lleno de sitios relacionados con este tema, gente con un buen puñado de ideas e iniciativas. Y por eso queremos recopilar en esta nueva categoría/sección de EU:KIDS todo tipo de referencias que relacionen ciudad, arquitectura, espacio público, diseño, creatividad, experiencia, juego y educación con los más pequeños.

Esperamos que os guste y os inspire.

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ecosistema urbano winner of experimental education center for Reggio Children Foundation

Category: ⚐ EN+architecture+competitions+ecosistema urbano+news+sustainability

experimental education center for Reggio Children Foundation

Last June, we shared in our blog we had been invited to participate in the competition for the design of an experimental center for early childhood education in Reggio Emilia (Italy).

The Reggio Children Foundation is a network of public schools for kids between birth and 11 years old in Reggio Emilia, a city where one third of the public budget is invested in education. During these months we have been working to develop the proposal, a laboratory-school where a new approach to children’s education is experimented, trying to make a proposal that would enhance the spirit of Reggio Children Foundation, their working method and philosophy, at the same time that addressing issues such as energy efficiency, sustainability, participation, etc.

It was very exciting to get a deeper knowledge of the “Reggio approach” and its learning methods, and experiment with the educational role of the spacial and urban space context. The Reggio Approach is an educational philosophy based on the image of the child, and of human beings, as possessing strong potentials for development and as a subject of rights who learns and grows in his relationships with others.

It is an honor for us to know that we have been winners of the competition, competing with extraordinary teams across Europe. The Reggio Children Foundation philosophy dovetails nicely with our own and we see the development of the proposal and the materialization of the solutions as a challenge we are willing to face.

Congratulations, Ecosistema!

experimental education center for Reggio Children Foundationexperimental education center for Reggio Children Foundation

We share an excerpt from the considerations of the jury:

“The proposed solution is the best suited to represent the new school concept, making the new building a new collective experiment. The building itself becomes an opportunity for comparison, on issues of sustainability and eco-backwards compatibility, making the children themselves active participants. The construction techniques proposed include a development which can be implemented over time, according to needs for teaching-learning related to the school’s teaching plan, which makes the construction of the building itself a community project, seen as a process rather than a point of arrival”.

experimental education center for Reggio Children Foundation

experimental education center for Reggio Children Foundation

Experimental education center for Reggio Children Foundation