Fun, as a design tool in urbanism, is increasingly used to make people proud and cautious of their environment says Pop Up City in a post on a “waterbed” pavement by artist collective Raum in Bourges, France. The undulating pavement, in turn, “questions the hardness of the city and its ability to change.”
Oh dear, that really takes the fun out of it. Fun, as a urban design tool, invites people to play instead of doing things the usual way, often fostering human interactions, too. Usually low-cost, private “interventions” to get our attention: Stairs or slide?Stairs or escalator?Swings or bench? Fun side effects might include more physical activity, more conversations, more reasons to play in the city. Play helps spark innovation, too, for other creative problem solving, but first let’s play without the pseudo philosophy.
I have a couple of particular pet peeves in planning trends and one of the strongest is how, in the last 25 years or so, houses turned their backs on the streets and parks. Yes, we have forgotten which are the private parts of buildings and moon the street.
I live in a part of town predating the great turnaround. My back yard (which does not abut a street) is where I take the dog out while I am still wearing my pajamas. My front yard is where I sit on the steps (after I have put on my real clothes), say hello to the neighbors and watch people slow down to look at Henrietta the giant chicken (or the bright blue, red, yellow and green trim).
There’s New Urbanism and Tactical Urbanism, but I’m trying to promote Fun Urbanism. I love cities, especially big cities, because there are unexpected places or events which help multitudes of strangers play together.