A place for play in Ng’ambo : a design proposal with children in focus for a public space in an informal settlement of Zanzibar, Tanzania.
Sammanfattning: Almost all the countries of the world have signed the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Convention is an international agreement that aims to give children the right to be heard and treated with respect, no matter where in the world the child is born. Article 31 of the Convention speaks, among other things, of the child’s right to engage in play. Play is crucial for the child’s mental and physical development, and the right to play should not be determined by where or in what conditions the child is born into. The existence of public places that encourage play should therefore be relevant worldwide, especially in areas that are neglected due to poverty. Informal settlements in developing countries are examples of areas that only have limited resources to provide their residents with a stimulating outdoor environment. This issue applies to the informal settlements in Zanzibar, which is one of the most densely populated regions in Africa. The largest and most crowded city in Zanzibar is Zanzibar Town, which is visibly divided into two areas; Stone Town and Ng’ambo. Stone Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, while Ng’ambo (meaning “The other side” in Swahili) consists of informal settlements, where the houses are built by the residents without any elaborated plan from authorities, which means that a minimum of space have been left to roads and public places. Located within the informal settlements of Ng’ambo is the site called Uwanja wa Farasi. During a nineweek field study sponsored by a Sida scholarship, research on this site was conducted to develop a design proposal that encourage children’s play. The research consisted of literature studies, site studies and interviews with locals. Uwanja wa Farasi was originally a Polo Ground, established by the British during the colonial times. Today, it is an open, green field that suffers from littering and flooding during the rainy seasons. It is mainly used as a passage or for football games, although the large quantities of open space have the potential to contain multiple functions that could contribute to an upgrade of the neighbourhood and encourage children’s play. The design proposal intends to turn Uwanja wa Farasi into an inclusive, urban park by keeping the existing qualities and adding new elements and environments that stimulate children and encourage play. This is achieved by the implementation of eight design strategies that derived from a compilation of the literature studies and field studies. The ambition is that the design proposal will serve as an inspiration and set the direction for a future sustainable development of the neighbourhood. The ideas on how to design with children’s perspective in mind could also be applicable to other sites with similar issues in other contexts.
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