Cities are envisioning a change in the use of public space. The new ways of moving and reclaiming space for citizens triggered the conversion of areas that were occupied by private cars into new open spaces. This newly gained public space might be a safe place for children throughout the city. To improve the liveability of these new spaces with a specific focus on children, the FURNISH-KIDS project aims to develop new liveable spaces using prototyping within a co-creation process with local communities, following the methodology developed in the first edition of FURNISH. Milan and Barcelona, both cities with dashing projects for the redesign of public open spaces that put pedestrians and cyclists first, will host full scale prototypes in public space to be tested by end users, as well as a full urban living lab experience that prioritizes co-creation across the whole project.
FURNISH-KIDS aims to create two public space interventions using the Urban Living Labs (ULL) methodology, what will enable the use of the existing methodology to address the benefits of including children in the process of co-creation of spaces by building two prototypes of Mobile Urban Elements (MUEs) in Milan and Barcelona. These new children-friendly MUEs will contribute to encourage the use of neighbourhood open spaces and to promote local knowledge.
The target areas in both cities are public open spaces with the potential of increasing liveability and creating new possibilities of uses focused on children. In Barcelona, the prototype will be placed on Gran Via Avenue – Glòries, a key area in the city that is being rethought through a participative process, and in Milan, as it has a strong program, “Piazze Aperte”, of TU (Tactical Urbanism) happening throughout the city, this will be defined by the city, partners and with citizens during the ideation process. The criteria to define the place will take into consideration the needs of the neighbourhood, citizen’s engagement, and the presence of children.
The focus age group will range from 6 to 12 years old children. Children in this age are more independent to play and enjoy spaces more freely, which will enable the design process to be more thought-provoking. In some cases, the age range can be restricted to 8 to 12 years, depending on the purpose of the space and the activities suggested.
There is an emerging trend in cities to change the current approach to urban spaces. A new form of intervention is to include citizens in the creation process, not only as a way of promoting better spaces, but to build local knowledge and sense of belonging. To do so, Urban Living Labs (ULL) framework is a methodology that seeks to organize this process. FURNISH-KIDS is an opportunity to develop the FURNISH process and to continue the approach, addressing a new target group – children.
Children naturally interact with the space whenever they feel instigated by it. These spaces, when designed, not only for, but with them, have the potential to promote happier, safer, and healthier spaces for all users in the present, and to shape more resilient and conscious citizens in the future. Cities are already taking initiatives to reclaim public spaces for people and building safer and larger spaces for pedestrians and active mobility. As a first scenario, it is essential to think of spaces also for kids, enabling them to circulate safely in the city. Now, to go beyond, there is the opportunity to furnish these reclaimed spaces. This will be achieved through a sequence of collaborative workshops developed by the partners together with local communities in two different locations, Milan and Barcelona. These two projects will result in a TU installation that will be tested and assessed. Following the co-creation process, kids will be part of all ULL steps, guaranteeing that the full process is not only user-oriented or user-sourced, but user-created.