This teaching resource aims in giving a methodology to promote pro-active citizen participation in developing/designing public spaces into vital community places, with people-friendly settings that enhance and protect local values, meet the people’s needs and contribute in the creation of vibrant and socially coherent communities.
The teaching resource will be based on gameplay/ interactivity principles that will simulate coalition building around important issues of public space in a typical neighbourhood in the city, such as the re-use of neglected, vacant and derelict spaces, a shift from ‘my’ to ‘our’ approach when it comes to how we view and use the neighbourhood, infrastructural changes for the benefit of all the residents, economic and social (self) sustainability, improvement of environmental conditions, etc.
Based on a clear, participatory methodology, the ‘play the neighbourhood’ game will involve numerous actors who are directly part or could influence the development/planning processes within a neighbourhood (students, experts, inhabitants, local governance, NGO's, etc.). The situation at hand will have been extracted from a real-life context, and will build preliminary mapping and research for a better understanding of the interests, priorities, conflicts, and overall dynamics in the neighbourhood.
The game will compel participants to balance their collaborative and competitive behavior against each other in order to make the neighbourhood flourish. In a “safe” environment, the participants will be able to exercise and speculate about the best ways, strategies and instruments to develop their neighbourhood, all of which will serve as the foundations for the development of the masterplans from which the urban intervention will then take shape.
The methodology to apply for reactivating “commons” in urban settlements has been consulted, reviewed, and successfully tested on a number of occasions in areas and contexts. The methodology can be summarized as follows:
1.The teaching activity starts with the presentation of the main topic and the most appropriate method to do so is the “Case Study Teaching”
2. The “Fieldwork” starts with a survey through a “Mental Mapping” method. Students will have to approach the topic/selected area by the development of the different subjective maps and images that can be further exploited and discussed
3. A “Performance” should be thought and implemented to increase the awareness of the community on the need to address the identified problem as a community.
4. A community mobilization and detailed surveying must be conducted. Such processes use “Individual interview” and “Focus group” methods which will further contribute to problem identification and the suggested solutions.
5. A workshop/process must be conducted based on gameplay/ interactivity principles that simulate coalition building around important issues of the “chosen” public space in the neighborhood. The “play the neighborhood” game will involve numerous actors who are directly part or could influence the development/planning processes within the neighborhood (inhabitants, design experts, municipal representatives, donors, NGO representatives, developers, etc.).
6. Following the inputs form the gaming process, the students will have to develop the solutions into a feasible technical project of urban intervention.
7. Community, decision making institutions and possible donors or contributing stakeholders will be further consulted through public presentation on the site where the urban intervention is to take place. Any necessary intermediations and changes are conducted and reflected in the technical project.
8. Performance of the urban intervention together with the community members that are willing to participate in the activity.