The following conversation between Carles Muro & Richard Sennett tackles Sennett’s Homo Faber trilogy on human nature and urban design. The conversation takes place at the Centre de Cultura Contemporània in Barcelona as part of the biennial Kosmopolis festival and celebrates Sennet’s latest book Building and Dwelling. Ethics for the City (2018).
In this talk, Sennet talks about the importance that he has placed on physicality and the relation between bodies and cities, the ethics of urban spaces and the challenges that global capitalism poses to urban design.
Peatoniños, or “pedestrian-children” is a joint project between Mexico City’s experimental division Laboratorio para la Ciudad (2013-2018) and the UCLA Urban Humanities initiative based on Henri Lefebvre’s right to the city. The project was part of a research axis that used small specialized teams to promote public policy improvements that favor pedestrians’ safety and mobility. The ultimate goal was to generate participation, collaboration and co-creation among the citizenship that favored children living in Mexico City and the greater metropolitan area.
According to the CONARPA, traffic incidents were the second cause of mortality among 5-14 year olds in 2013. These and other threats to children safety such as violence and general insecurity have diminished the use of streets as playgrounds (a common practice in Mexico City forty years ago, but a dying one now a days).
To address these issues, increase children safety, and provide children and families’ with a right to the city, the project ran a series of urban interventions from 2016 to 2018. These interventions consisted in the temporarily closing of streets to motorized vehicles and inviting children and adults to take part of a series of activities planned using community-centered design and urban space analysis.
The pedagogical activities of Peatoniños turned the intervened streets into areas where children were able to play, talk with their neighbors, make new friends and learn about road safety principles. A total of eight streets were intervened with an average participation of fifty children and seventeen adults. Institutional collaboration was a catalyst for participation. The project concluded that these interventions have a high potential for reproducibility and may, in the long run, strengthen social cohesion and improve street safety. The recommendation for the future was to implement these urban interventions in zones where there is a high number of children, few open or green spaces and where the development index is low.
If you would like to learn more about Laboratorio para la Ciudad, you can visit their website here.
To read more about Peatoniños, you can visit this post from the UCLA Luskin Global Public Affairs website, or you can read the summarized report from the Laboratorio para la ciudad here.
“Our society routinely makes decisions without consulting a quarter of the population. […] We are making choices about land use, energy production, and natural resources without the ideas and the experiences of the full community.” – Mara Mintzer, Program Director at Growing Up Boulder
Looking around the internet I came across this great TED Talk from TEDx about how cities are designed by adults and for adults. What do you think would happen if we let children plan our cities? Sure, there’d be candy parks and water cannons (no, really) but, as it turns out, there would also be a genuine concern for the environment, inclusiveness and mobility.
In the words of Mara Mintzer, “… all of this has revealed something important, an important blind spot. If we aren’t including children in our planning, who also aren’t we including?” If you want to find out, watch this video conference from TEDx below:
If you want to learn more about Mara Mintzer or about Growing Up Boulder, you can follow this link and this link respectively.
Check out Boulder’s first ever child-friendly city map here (link to pdf). Do you want to know what’s also great about it? It’s bilingual to Spanish!