Playspace: New narratives for public space is a Valletta 2018 and a Valletta Design Cluster event, developed and delivered by Valletta-based creative studios We Live Here and AP Valletta, in consultation with Invisible Playground (Berlin), Siġġiewi Local Council and Council for Kids.
The project proposes an open, street workshop with children as protagonists, where questions as to the nature of public space can be explored through the eyes and voices of the young. While we continue to sacrifice our precious public space for vehicles, we forget that those unable to drive, particularly children, suffer the consequences of car domination most acutely. The absence of a safe pedestrian and bicycle environment in residential areas has a specific impact on the well-being of children, both on their physical health and on their independence. International studies suggest that the lack of interest in child mobility for policy makers is not in any way uniquely Maltese. On the other hand they also underscore the critical importance of making environmental quality for people, and not space for cars, the focus of street design, if public space is to be a place for children to flourish and to engage with the world.
The event takes place on the 21st October 2018 between 9.30am and 12.30pm at Pjazza San Nikola, Siġġiewi. It is being developed as a workshop that can be adapted or replicated for future use by councils, schools, cultural and community centres, and planning and policy makers. The intention is to create a toolkit for repeat delivery of the workshop, which includes props, a short film, and a publication. It is anticipated the project will present Siġġiewi Local Council with a case study for transforming its public square in a way that benefits the entire community, setting a new benchmark at a national level.
To develop the workshop, WLH and AP invited the Berlin-based artist group Invisible Playground to collaborate by adapting a pre-existing format titled ‘Just add people – The instant architecture game’ ( http://justaddpeople.co/en )
The workshop will involve the use of architectural props and narratives to prompt children to question the nature of the public spaces they inhabit, and its potential function other than as a conduit for cars. It will engage children to play in public space; to ask themselves what public space can be, and what it can lend itself to; to use their imagination to consider new and fantastical scenarios for the realm of tarmac.
The initiative forms part of Design4DCity, a multi-year program aiming at improving the residents’ quality of life through micro-interventions in the Maltese urban landscape.