viernes, 29 de junio de 2012


Our public space can make a difference in children have better developed, happy or sad. Here is why.
1. The more rich spaces and activities is a community, the richer becomes the learning process. It is necessary that children have access to the adult world, because children learn best from concrete experiences, and the ideal setting for this interaction is the public space. If we limit the education of school and home, this will always be incomplete.
2. Children need to play with other children, this is fundamental to healthy social growth. Public space is the ideal place for it. There are studies that indicate that if children do not play with other children during the first five years of life, there is a good chance that as adults, acquire some sort of mental illness. There are data on cases of adults with mental illness, which is a direct relationship between cases of severe neurosis, with which claimed to have had very few or no friends during her childhood. [1]
3. Children need plenty of room to release all their energy, all who have or had young children, live or have lived the drama of having them locked in their houses or apartments where you can download without having all that energy.
However, the formation of public space today, makes this an almost impossible task, too much danger in the streets, to let them walk alone, limiting children to contact each other and make friends. The speeding traffic, including local streets, parks disintegrated in the life of the community and fear of strangers, robberies and assaults make parents keep our children locked in their homes, isolated from the real world. We live in fear of leaving our children and teen hang-out, fear of using public space, fear of walking out, afraid to go out alone at night. This in turn makes public spaces are empty and insecure, closing a vicious circle.
As there are more alternatives, virtual spaces are replacing public spaces as places of entertainment and meeting. Many times parents we have no choice but to let our children watch TV, surf the internet, playing video games or computer, or the best, pay extra curricular activities, summer camps and other where they can entertain and dispel some those energies. The first away from the real world and can be dangerous if they are excessive and are not controlled by parents. The latter are expensive, which means you are limited to an economic elite and increases social differences.
What can we do? 
We must create spaces that facilitate neighborly contact and also be rich in activities. As we can see, neighborly contact among children is vital, so if we develop spaces that facilitate this contact, we will ensure happy children with a good chance of becoming happy adults and they can create happy communities.  
For example, the most common public space, the road must be transformed from circulation space at neighborhood meeting place, instead of learning from the adult world in space where children play in the courtyard of the neighborhood where cars traveling slowly while sharing the space with many community activities.  
At first glance this may seem very bold it, but not, perhaps many of us remember when we were kids and there was not much traffic was on the street where we played. We played football, we rode our bikes, we went down the steep streets in wooden cars or scooters, or iron balls played, we jumped rope, played hopscotch and more.
Here are some changes that should be done to make the public space can be used by children.
1. To transform our local streets safe spaces for children, there to pacify traffic within, ie the cars that circulate inside to do so slowly and safely, as it should be on a local street.  
To achieve these are some ideas of what can be done:
  • continuous sidewalks along the collector roads with entrance ramp to the local cross street
  • reduce the turning radius of the cars at least when they come from a collector or arterial road to a local street
  • widening of the corners in such a way to reduce the crosswalk, marked parking space for cars and reduce the speed of entering the street
  • unique platforms pedestrian-priority space, pedestrian or restricted
  • widening sidewalks, so to reduce the width of vehicular traffic to a minimum
  • one-way routes and avoid preferring intersection encounters T. 
  • curve and winding road, so to slow the vehicle
  • planting trees or placing planters or furniture or roundabouts in the middle of the street
2. Besides our public space should be configured such that energizes activities.
  • this requires that the relationship between public space and private space is strong and that the street, square or park will become an extension of home, work, office, trade school, the workshop of the artisan. In a district with a wealth of public spaces with people's domain, we have a wide range of activities and functions, from local shops, craft workshops, professional studios, restaurants, cafes, hairdressers, cafes, small businesses, various services, theater, shopping streets, playgrounds, etc.. 
  • neighborhood park should be the focus of activities in the neighborhood meeting place. Around this neighborhood equipment should be implemented as a church, school, administrative and management center, security, health, recreation, sports, etc..
  • shaping the space should enable the main activities of the district are connected and close to access on foot. That way children can safely traverse and so can make the most of all these experiences and activities.
Unfortunately our urban legislation requires doing the opposite, so much so that force us to leave ample space for the vehicles on local streets and turning radii are calculated for the speed of the vehicles is not impaired. They force us to leave a green space with little discretion of their relations with the main activities of the neighborhood. Compounding the mixed land use and yet promote the implementation of certain businesses and facilities that by their scale, drive traffic and inconvenience to local residents.
Diego Hurtado
Pedestrian Association Quito
March 2009
[1] Christopher Alexander. A Pattern Language. Editorial Gustavo Gil. Barcelona 1980. Chapter 57. Children in the city

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