Posted by: Barrak Al-Babtain | October 31, 2009

Kid-Friendly Neighborhood

Childhood obesity is an epidemic in Kuwait. Computer games and television has made it easy for kids to live a sedentary lifestyle. For some, the only exercise is the few hours of PE class in school every week. Neighborhoods have a social duty to provide children with a safe environment to play with other kids and have fun.

6. An elementary school is close enough so that most children can walk from their home.

Summer break means that kids are spared the worst months of summer, so a walk to school is mostly pleasant. Of course, the entire length should be shaded, and every morning there should be someone at each road crossing to stop traffic and allow the kids to safely cross the street. To do this, sidewalks have to be wide enough to allow people to walk. The problem with most neighborhoods in Kuwait is that the sidewalk is too narrow and each house has far too many cars; the cars park on the sidewalk filling the entire space. This forces people to walk on the street. If it was up to me this would be illegal. The public owns the sidewalk and nobody should force me to walk on the street.

Playground

7. There are small playgrounds accessible to every dwelling — not more than 150 meters away.

We have a unique opportunity to create a hybrid community center by merging a playground with a mosque. Both have to be within walking distance of every dwelling, so why not combine the two? The playground becomes part of the mosque infrastructure. During prayer time, adults using the mosque will create a feeling of safety through community policing. It can become a new hybrid community center; a mosque, playground, learning center and local library all in one seamless small urban space.

lesezeichen, magdeburg


Responses

  1. very interesting, about the children walking home to school bit, however, there are many complications to this in kuwait. first off, as a child i used to bike to and from school from the ages of 9-12 every day, and walking/biking to school is something i think every kid should have as an option.

    but there are problems, first

    1-Many schools in kuwait, at least some private that i know, don’t let children leave off the campus unless accompanied by someone. i remember i was with my friend once who works in a school and had duty (monitoring kids for pick up), and i stayed with her. a new pair of siblings (two girls whose first day of school it was) tried to walk accross the street because they literally live right in front of the school. no one would let them go, because its against school policy, so they had to wait 30 minutes for a driver to pick them up because the mother was not expecting them to have a problem and thus had gone out with her driver.

    2-proper infrastructure around the school would have to be set up for this. there would have to be crossing guards (in the usa this is common and in many parts in europe there are policemen assigned to areas near schools ) in major streets during entry/exit hours for the students, to help them pass major streets. secondly there would need to be proper sidewalks. lastly if kids are coming on bike, there would need to be a helmet enforcement policy as well as a bike rack set up for the childrens’ bikes.

    most of these are points you raise, and i agree that it should be illegal to obstruct the sidewalk, you can make anythign you want illegal, but try enforcing penalties, this is the heart of the problem.

  2. I agree with Victoria that many of the issues that are brought up in this blog require law enforcement of some sort. I think we can only try our best to enlighten people and show options, however, how the society behaves is another matter. This is why I don’t believe in the power of a good proper design that have the ability to solve our problems. Our problems come from what are used to as a whole society. We tent to simply bend the rules to our desires, fixing that is a must, but shouldn’t stop us from suggesting solutions to our urban problems.

  3. I agree completely that enforcement is the key, but I don’t see it as being such an impenetrable obstacle. All it would take is to assign a few traffic wardens to every area. Tickets and fines are an incredible motivator for positive change, and you get a new revenue stream out of it too. We should fine every car that is found parked on the 2m space adjacent to the road (20KD+). People won’t know what to do with their cars. That’s a good thing, as this would make them think about the decision a lot more. If they can’t fit any more cars, they won’t buy more than they need. If they can park them inside their lot, then that’s even better. What we shouldn’t allow is for people to lazily park their car where it forces people to walk on the street. That’s just wrong.

  4. I updated the post to include the Open Air Library by KARO Architekten. It’s a wonderful small social space in Magdeburg, Germany. What really made me mad was that it was funded by the Ministry of infrastructure, building and city development. We should demand this sort of urban renewal from our local government.

    This could easily become the mosque/playground/library hybrid I described earlier. You wouldn’t need any parking because everyone will walk to it . It’s right in the heart of the neighborhood, not outside of it. It becomes the hub; and a pedestrian network will start to develop and emerge from it reaching to all the houses that are within walking distance. Man, that space makes me angry. I want it right by my house…

    Edit: Wow, apparently, you can just pick up any book you want. They’re just there and you can grab them 24 hours a day. That’s an interesting social experiment, isn’t it?

  5. […] need to be anchored by a mosque, which would act as the catalyst of pedestrian urban development. A park/mosque/library hybrid should be […]

  6. […] to exhibit their homemade work and sell to people walking by, and I would anchor all of this with a mosque/library/daycare center hybrid. Of course, this can only work outside of summer. Even so, it would absolutely be worth the […]


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