Images by Mariana Rios
‘Spatial impressions: identity, shelter and awareness’ is an action-research project that seeks to build resilience and the resignification of realities in children that are in vulnerable situations and have been victims of violence.
The project explores architecture as a tool to transform negative connotations into positive experiences through spatial perception, play and exploration. This exercise seeks to understand how children conceive and perceive places not only based on an affective dimension and lived experiences, but also in places that guarantee a state of survival, peace and security. The possibility of action and play, the presence of an unknown landscape and the existence of physical and spatial limits were some of the starting points to select three spaces in Mexico City (Monument of the Revolution, Sculpture Space and Anahuacalli Museum) to visit with the children. Reflecting on the nature of their architecture and the social values of public life, these places opened a possibility for new ways of perception of spaces for the children.
Location: Mexico City, Mexico
Organisation: Mariana Rios Robles
Partner organisations: Fonca Young Creators Grant Program Beneficiary: Children aged 5-12 in vulnerable conditions (victims of violence)
Scale of catchment: Homestead temporary shelter
Built environment component: Public space, museum
INTERVENTION DESIGN LEARNINGS
Places should be visited in advance before going with children. Possible risks should be assessed as well as heights and rough textures or materials present in the space.
Spaces that have contrasts in their architecture and context tend to attract children’s attention (soft and rough textures, lights and shadows, open and close spaces, heights, views of the city, etc.)
Process 1) Sensory gym with children and caregivers at the beginning of each visit as an introduction to the site and next activities. 2) It is essential that adults allow children explore at their own pace. The routes and activities at each site are different in order to explore and get to know as much as possible. 3) Three days after each visit, a workshop is carried out with the children. In this exercise children draw their bedroom in their favourite place in the visited space. Then, they are asked to invent a story and make a model out of it. If possible, children are interviewed to explain their drawings and models. 4) Architectural drawings can be made of each space visited based on children's perception and interpretation.
There is a notorious change in children's perception between the days of the visits and the days of the workshops. This in turn generates a significant change in the way they perceive their first intimate habitat: their bedroom or their house.
Most of the children selected the same spot for their bedroom but the context and their narrative was different in a positive way. For example, a rooftop was no longer a dark, violent and bad place, but it was now a place where the sky and the mountains could be seen, and you could feel safe and protected.