SHARED SPACES: New opportunities to promote health and integration.
Article for CIC magazine, Architecture and Sustainability.
Current trends in urban design and equipment
In recent years, We have witnessed a true revolution in the design and equipment of urban areas and playgrounds, Driven by the search for safer environments, inclusive and stimulating for the community. Advances in materials, Technology and design approaches have opened up new possibilities, allowing the creation of spaces that encourage social interaction, Creative Play and the Integral Development of Children.
In this context, AFAMOUR (Spanish Association of Manufacturers of Urban Furniture and Playgrounds) plays a key role. Our mission is to promote the improvement and development of urban spaces through the creation of high-quality playgrounds and training playgrounds, that promote health, Fun and social integration.
In an ever-changing environment, It is essential to carry out an assessment of the situation of playgrounds and street furniture, as well as examining new future opportunities in this field to improve urban environments.
Assessment of the situation and new opportunities
Today, We face significant challenges in relation to playgrounds and street furniture. On the one hand, We must ensure the safety of children, taking into account aspects such as the quality of materials, compliance with regulations and adaptation of facilities to different ages and abilities. On the other hand, We strive to adapt to the new trends and needs of modern cities, looking for spaces that promote social interaction, Learning and connecting with nature.
In this context, new opportunities arise for the future for AFAMOUR and its associates. First of all, Sustainability and respect for the environment have become fundamental pillars in the design and construction of playgrounds. Our partner companies strive to use recyclable and environmentally friendly materials, Reduce energy consumption and encourage the reuse and recycling of items used in your projects. Employment, For example, recycled packaging or used tyres, in the construction of park facilities or on the floors of recreational areas, This is a trend that is becoming more and more widespread in the environments in which our associates intervene, whether they are manufacturers, Distributors or certifiers. The future looks very encouraging. There is a perception of transformation and rejuvenation, which is reflected in the commitment of the companies. We are all aligned and we will not stop on this path.
Universal accessibility is always one of our goals. AFAMOUR has a significant role to play in this regard, Order TMA/851/2021, It develops the basic conditions of accessibility and non-discrimination for access to and use of urban public spaces, taking into account fundamentally the accesses to them; And we must go further, as our associates design, Manufactured, distribute or certify, the spaces themselves and not just the environments or accesses. Well, it is all the elements that have to be destined to be integrated into public spaces, to ensure that these are accessible to all people, regardless of your physical or cognitive abilities. Nevertheless, although there is still a long way to go, It can be said that public policies related to accessibility have undergone a remarkable development in recent decades.
That's why, and because participating in children's lives means contributing to the socialization and maturation of children through safe play elements, It is essential that companies help to disseminate the basic criteria of universal accessibility in built-up spaces. Given that there are still many different barriers that people with disabilities face that prevent their social and labor inclusion, The companies involved must meet this challenge by making concrete commitments to universal accessibility.
We can not forget that both the game, such as outdoor leisure in parks, are fundamental activities for physical development, mental and social people. Playgrounds weave and create a feeling and identity of community and belonging, which has a lot to do with the formation of societies and the ways of participating in them. Going hand in hand with childhood in public spaces and parks offers us the possibility of approaching an emotional world free of categories. When Kids Play, are developing their physical skills, Exercise their motor coordination, learn to cooperate, They have fun, They form teams, make new friends and follow the rules or change them, trying to learn how to win and lose while building their self-esteem and individual affirmation.
In the planning of play areas, It should be borne in mind that play is an activity that transcends childhood to become part of adolescence and adult life, Because the pleasure of playing doesn't end with childhood. New parks must respond effectively to the challenge of inviting the whole family to play, regardless of its composition. Sharing Time, Space and playful activity in public places is a desire of young and old alike, and a stimulus for designers, Manufacturers and public administrations.
Public spaces equipped with training elements provide the opportunity to perform physical exercise free of charge and accessible to all, and encourage social interaction and health care, Promoting an Active Lifestyle. And the aquatic areas, are becoming an increasingly relevant resource in cities, especially during the summer months, since, In addition to providing a refreshing and fun experience, contribute to alleviating high temperatures and promoting social cohesion.
Universal design: Principles
It's important that the gameplay elements, Training and street furniture comply with the principles of universal design and facilitate the enjoyment of recreational activities, sports and socialization to all users. Se trata de ir más allá de la ‘usabilidad’ de los entornos o productos incluyendo la participación social y la salud.
La accesibilidad, que es una condición indispensable para que los parques sean inclusivos, debe estar considerada desde el propio diseño original de la zona, permitiendo así que los juegos infantiles, la superficie amortiguadora y el resto de las instalaciones de apoyo puedan ser utilizados de la forma más cómoda, segura y autónoma posible por todos.
Es importante reflexionar sobre lo que en realidad convierte el juego en una experiencia divertida y desafiante. Alcanzar estas sensaciones, no se consigue sólo con facilitar a los niños el acceso al equipamiento del juego, si no que hay que pensar, And do it from the start, in the many considerations to be taken into account. Such as age appropriateness, the value of the game, social development and sense stimulation.
The same goes for different types of disability (physics, cognitive, sensory...), Well, they have to be considered in all the play space and in the equipment. The aim is to remove barriers that may be limiting and prevent children from accessing the, Hearing and Seeing Correctly, or understand the game that is proposed to them. In an ideal scenario, We must seek to, Understand and work on accessibility in all senses.
We need to think of everyone, And offer something to everyone. That's why, You need to set up a variety of play experiences and challenges for kids of all ages, Cultural Background and Physical Abilities, sensory and mental skills can develop their skills in a suitable playful environment. Make sure that each child gets the encouragement and challenge they need from the whole play area, without that meaning that everyone makes the same use and on an equal footing of all the gaming equipment. To do this, Universal design is based on seven principles:
- Equal Use: It is easy to use and suitable for all people, regardless of their abilities and abilities.
- Flexibility: Accommodates a wide range and variety of individual preferences and abilities.
- Simple and functional to use: It's simple to understand, No matter the experience, knowledge, User's language or concentration level.
- Comprehensible information: communicates the necessary information to the user, even if you have a sensory disturbance.
- Security: Minimizes the dangers and adverse consequences of accidental or unintentional actions.
- Low physical exertion: Can be used efficiently and comfortably with minimal fatigue.
- Space and size for approach and use: It has spaces of suitable sizes for the approach, scope, Handling & Use, no matter the size, User's posture or mobility.
Urban design and equipment is undergoing significant advances. Safety, Sustainability and inclusivity are key factors that are considered in each project. From AFAMOUR, We will remain committed to driving excellence in the design and manufacture of street furniture and playgrounds, always seeking to improve the quality of life of communities and create sustainable public spaces for all.