the Urban Planning Agency run by Children

blue-sky blueprint / Architekturbüro LichtPause proposes a radical remodelling of public urban places, as imagined by local experts in the creative use of space – children. Intended for site-specific projection (outdoors, in the communities being remodelled), the videos unlock the potential of the local street and urban space as learning environments. The key tactic used to break away from traditional design processes is to involve children as researchers and designers, tapping their curiosity, expertise in play, and unbounded imagination (‘blue-sky thinking’).

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The contemporary trend in urban planning is steadfastly towards the creation of sterile, defensible space designed around work, consumption, and phobia (and, increasingly, managed by private interest). This engenders the exact opposite of a space that accommodates serendipitous encounters, encourages plural uses, and generates initiative. A major step towards an open society lies in rethinking public spaces as spaces in flux, open to improvised use and dynamic processes – as learning environments, for young and old.   – Manu Luksch in Monica Vykoukal, ed., Neither Shoreditch nor Manhattan. Black Country Creative Advantage. Multistory 2011, p. 108

The most adaptive users of public space are children. These spaces play a vital role in their development – as territories for meeting, exchange, and fantasy; as loci of collective memory; as environments of controlled risk. The playground constitutes only a small part of a growing child’s turf.

This project explores how children experience the street, and how they appropriate places for play. During workshops led by the artist, they share their perceptions, responses, and fantasies as they construct architectural paper models of their idealized visions of public space. The paper models are rendered in CAD software and integrated in 3D scenes – creating a ‘kids’ masterplan’ for their home towns.

Commissioned by Kunst im öffentlichen Raum Steiermark and DIAGONALE Austrian Film Festival, and Black Country Creative Advantage, a two-year partnership of the Centre for Art, Design, Research and Experimentation at the University of Wolverhampton and the Longhouse scheme of arts organisation Multistory, supported by the National Lottery through Arts Council England