El Carrito: Week Eleven, Thursday, March 31, 2011

Public Space Dialogues: Starting Young

Today was one of the most continuously busy days at El Carrito. Once the elementary school let out for the day at five in the afternoon, we had an almost continuous string of young students excited to complete the Neighborhood Detective missions. First, we use the site model to facilitate orientation within the neighborhood through the recognition of the neighborhood landmarks such as the Arc de Triomf, the North Station and the Monumental Torro Stadium. Then Javi and I explain that there is a mission – an urban mission – to be completed.



Neighborhood Detectives: Official Mission and Badges

Before disclosing the mission, each Neighborhood Detective group must create a fake name – the Alias.

Names have included: Corazones, Estella and Superman. Each group member writes this alias down and executes a portrait drawing depicting the name to create the official badge to wear on the mission.

Discussing the Mission

We then explain the five questions that comprise the mission:

1.       Ask five people what activity brings each to the plaza.

2.       Count the number of trees and benches in the plaza.

3.       Engage an elderly person in a game.

4.       Ask five people what they think about children playing in the street.

5.       Ask one person if they have seen El Carrito before and how they would describe its activities.


Completing the Mission

The individual questions are designed to encourage children to explore the plaza and enter into dialogue with the people who use it. We hope to facilitate investigations of both the social and spatial qualities of the plaza.



Official Neighborhood Detective Photos

After the mission, each team poses for an official photo, of which they will receive a copy the following week. (We had four previous teams pick up their prints today.) Each team member also receives a small prize –Arquitectos Sin Fronteras postcards. Soon we hope to replace this with our Public Space Trading Cards – which is in the works.



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