For whom: Children of Seferihisar
With whom: Seferihisar Children Municipality
On Wednesday 4 September 2013, in behalf of Herkes İçin Mimarlık Didem Veryeri, İrem Sönmez, Ceren Sözer, H. Cenk Dereli and Emre Gündoğdu were in Seferihisar to realize a workshop with Seferihisar Children Municipality.
This workshop was preliminary to works that will be carried out by HiM and Seferihisar Children Municipality on the public spaces which will be designed by participatory processes and it was a trial of including children to the processes.
Children Municipality is described by Seferihisar Municipality as follows,
“ Seferihisar Children Municipality which is established within Child Friendly Cities Project provides for coordinative works in collaboration with Seferihisar Municipality. Seferihisar Children Municipality has the right to freely express its opinion on subjects concerning itself and has the right to use decision-making mechanisms about these subjects.”
After meeting Mehmet Kuzu who was in charge of the event in Seferihisar Children Municipality building, checking required materials, we have departed to Sığacık and we assembled with children in Sığacık Kaleiçi.
To overcome children’s excitement and timidity we played meeting games under the Aegean midday sun, sheltering in the shadows of Sığacık’s narrow streets. We tried to attract their attention by questions such as “Who is the architect? What does he/she do? What is it, to design? What would you like to design?”
After getting their opinions about architecture and design, we arranged children into three groups according to their ages, in the working area settled under fig trees and we explained children the activity. We showed children sugar cubes and cardboard boxes that we have brought, we asked them to relate cardboard and sugar cubes and to use sugar cubes as a means of imagining true size. We wanted them to imagine in the manner of making proportional transitions between different dimensions and to design a ‘thing’ by making model that they will make true size production.
After distributing materials such as glue, sugar cube, plastic tape, crayons we asked them to make a ‘thing’ that one could stand next to, get under and pass through. As a beginning, we gave 10 sugar cubes to each child and helped them make experiments with glue. Then we set them free using sugar cubes to make design trials as they wish.
While they were playing with these materials we talked about model properties such as geometry, material properties, sticking methods, strength and functions such as stepping on, getting under. While children were asking questions, we had conversations with each child about their works, enabling different points of view.
Workshop coordinators asked questions such as “What is this? How is it? What are you doing with it? How would you act if you were tall enough to climb on these cubes?” to encourage them imagining and orally describing things that they imagine and three-dimensional thinking.
When children were satisfied with their production from sugar cubes, we distributed them white papers. We wanted them to draw on one side of the paper that is folded in half what they have produced and on the other side what his/her friend on the left side have produced. It was not the purpose of making beautiful drawings, we asked them to explain in best way what they have produced from sugar cubes by drawing and writing. The aim was to enable children to explain what they have produced in a different way, by using pen and paper. The description of their friend’s production was made to see how they perceive and describe something they did not think about.
They were asked to show sugar cube models at dimension and usage they have imagined in their drawings. Which means that they were encouraged to indicate if it is something they can step on, if it stands in the middle of trees. Progression of ideas was provided by questions.
Some of them drew just by observing, some of them put sugars on paper then drew, some of them drew just what they have created, some of them blended with imagination what they have made…
After everyone showed what they have made, they were asked to choose one sugar cube model from each group to produce a bigger one by using boxes.
The designs which were selected by groups were an abstract fish which was called piranha by its designer, a frame which could be hanged and everyone could stand behind to pose all together and a robot that could stand.
Producing together, helping each other, creating morphological harmonies, improving basic design stimulation, passing from model scale to true scale, learning material performance, experiencing the design process…
When designs were concluded by gathering boxes, they started to paint boxes which had different colors and writings on them to be able to gather boxes. Children put on their aprons, they decided how to paint boxes and they finalized their designs.
It would not be an exaggeration to say that children enjoyed the workshop as they said, ‘Will you come again?’ ‘I am glad that I came’ and as they were eagerly working in hot weather and trying to finish their work in the most beautiful way.
As it was almost evening and the boxes could not dry immediately that is why children did not have enough time to play with what they have produced. Before saying goodbye to children, we took a photo together as a souvenir.
As workshop coordinators, we observed once again that how it can easily bring children to a producer position from imagining when basic design approaches meet children’s imaginations and how it can enhance the creation and production impulse that they already have inside.
The main idea of the workshop was setting children’s imaginations free by encouraging the usage of free associations instead of pre-described subjects thus opening a way to reach something new for everyone.
Switching between different scales, manipulating materials by handcraft and experiencing the joy of creating something were targets to be realized.
According to us, the products and energy that emerged in this workshop are an indication that when the dreams that children make for their own neighborhoods come true, unique designs will emerge which citizens of all ages will enjoy.
By providing more opportunities for children, they should be encouraged to intervene where they live, to take responsibility for healing and change, to take possession of the area they live in and to increase sense of belonging.
Children Municipality’s vision and activities show that they will provide such an environment for them.
As HiM, we would like to thank Seferihisar Municipality and Mayor Tunç Soyer for their contribution and support in the realization of the workshop.
Here you can find the photo album of the workshop.