Audience for a Playground
ARCHITECTURE, CITIZENSHIP & LEARNING
CREATING A CIVIC SPACE FOR THE NEIGHBORHOOD / / / /
VILLA VERDE, CONSTITUCIÓN, CHILE
CONTEXT OF THE PROJECT
Working in the context of neighborhoods is always an enriching experience, especially when the project which is being created is desired and needed by its inhabitants, and when a physical change in their built environment seeks to promote community life.
"Audience for a Playground" is the name of the FONDART project from which this work began.
The challenge? The lack of active shared spaces available to gather, within the paradigmatic Villa Verde housing scheme composed of 484 families, designed by Elemental.
Location? In the commune of Constitución, Maule Region
The action? A simple response delivered by the leaders of this community: to construct spectator stands in front of the multi-use sports pitch which currently receives the most traffic of residents. But it is not about a grandstand, rather it is about a set of steps / different levels designed and built together as a community. Economic resources are scarce and for this reason the community are invited to collaborate directly with their knowledge of local materials and building techniques to construct the project.
EXPLORING THE SCALE OF THE DESIGN
Starting the Process: Presentations, workshops and informative meetings were held with the leaders of the Neighborhood Boards and interest groups such as the Senior Adults Group and Sports Club. Following these events a calendar of meetings were scheduled to gather the community to participate in the design, and coordinate and take part in the construction.
FIRST DESIGN WORKSHOP
On the afternoon of Saturday 20th May, the participants explored their ideas for the project by creating quick proposals in their individual sketchbooks and pencils to create active material to open the discussion. The only two conditions applied were: to provide the facility of a spectator stand overlooking the multi-use sports pitch, and for it to sit within the limits of the triangular shape of the site. Over two hours, which passed rapidly, the site was measured to obtain a clearer understanding of its scale. After that, ideas which the participants sketched then discussed in groups to create a common plan. Identifying the key requests from the community, these elements which were scaled 1:1 with bamboo drawings, were projected on the ground with the scaled measurements to understand how they could start to relate to each other and most importantly to the high traffic context.
This exercise allowed the neighbours to refine their ideas and to modify those drawn quickly on the plan which at first seemed good, but needed another point of view to identify alternative solutions which would work better.
It is important to highlight the activity with children who designed their own 1:1 spaces based on a reflection on their current uses, the qualities of space and the games they wanted to play. From drawing in a quick session to extract quick ideas, they followed an experiential route that was established in sketches and resulted structures in the field, allowing them to contribute to the general discussion, and explain their ideas to the adults. This last point is essential in the creation of a genuinely intergenerational public space. To provide a platform to expose opinions about one's built environment in front of an an audience from an early age helps to form responsible citizens and reduces fear in speaking.
With meetings where the community can create, expose their ideas, dialogue, draw and build them, we all finish the experience happier and more ambitious of where the project can go.
CHILDREN CREATING STRUCTURES
FOR COMMUNITY PLAY
Not only do they draw, they also design and present (and express themselves to the audience), for example, on ther first page of Isidora's sketchbook, the minimalist image is a stone sculpture, one of this 3 year old's projects for her neighbourhood (right image).
Context of the Villa Verde Housing
In Collaboration with:
Urbanismo Social Foundation
Financed by the National Council of Culture and the Arts