Do we spend time looking at the city? Do we spend time observing the landscape in front of us? What about our children? Do they? I don´t think so.
The Italian Psychologist, Miretta Prezza´s, some years ago penned an article named “Children´s independent mobility” and wrote:
“For Italian children, the city is mostly a scene that they observe from the car window, from the windows of their home or from clinging to the hand of an adult who forces them to walk at his\ her pace”
Such a statement rings true for most of our European children; it is not just an Italian issue!
Through a mixture of parental over-protection as well as failures of modern urban design, children are no longer able to explore their surroundings independently. The consequence of this lack of autonomy is that they are no longer able to enjoy the city as they should. They are not in touch with the urban environment. Thus forth, our children are foreigners in their own towns and cities.
My concern as architect goes beyond this. Our children do not walk around and play outdoors independently, they are not encouraged to observe their surrounds and yet further to this there is a fundamental lack of appreciation for their city.
“For children living in industrialized countries, the city is mostly a scene that they figure out from the corner of their eyes while playing with their parent´s mobile in the car, bus or restaurant”
With a multitude of distractions and stimulus, children today find it far more difficult to engage with their urban environment. Without education and instruction, it is clearly more difficult to find appreciation of the rich and enlivening environment that surrounds us: shop windows; kiosks full of colorful magazines; fruit in the market; old and dirty facades; chimneys poking from roofs; flowers hanging from pub entrances; the doors; the balconies; the bricks; people jogging; people walking; people lying in the park…all go unseen.
The city is crowded and full of surprises. As parents and teachers, we have a duty to explain, underline and point out the beauty of our daily life. We need to teach our children that the urban landscape we occupy is unique and precious. We need to draw attention to the things that happen everyday and every second in front of their tiny noses.
Dolores Victoria Ruiz Garrido.”Little Architect” Director.Architectural Association.London