Venice Street Training

Submitted by Lottie on Wed, 2010-08-25 09:43

Are there things about the design of a public space, street, square or alley that encourage certain behaviours? How do the built infrastructure and the social infrastructure relate?

Ten years of research into people’s approaches to safety and joy in city streets is now applied in Venice, Italy in collaboration with muf architecture\art as part of the Venice Architecture Biennale.

Venice Street Training has been in development since June when I met a group of Venetian teenagers to learn from them, their own ways, to use the spaces of Venice joyfully. Before the session I walked with Viola Carnelutti from muf architecture\art to explore the city in terms of play and sensual, reciprocal engagement. I recalled the many ‘ techniques’ for joyful behaviour taught to me by people in cities from Helsinki to Rio. Many are applicable here and many are not. Chasing pigeons gives children joy in every city I have visited as does smiling at strangers. Stopping to listen to the music coming from people’s windows was taught to me in Linz as was stopping to enjoy the sunlight shining on your body – a technique I applied during research in Sao Paulo. Ringing door-bells and running away was conveyed to me in Bethnal Green East London and shouting your name out in the street was suggested by a small child in Camberwell. I met the group of Venetian teenagers from Instituto Comprehensivo Dante Alighieri and explored Campo San Zacherria with them then gave them my list of techniques for joyful interaction with the place complied in response to what I had see there and what I have learnt in other cities. I proposed the value of close looking and awareness of our surroundings and suggested that children and young people sometimes have special skill in this. I then asked them to go off in groups to remember or invent their own techniques. On their return they took the teacher, Viola and Amy from the British Council and I to demonstrate their moves. They sang opera into the phone on the phone box and climbed on top of it. One guy found a broom and danced with it in the street, some one asked a little Japanese child to lie on the ground so we could draw around her in chalk, rolling down bridges and lying on the ground to shout out the name of some one you love were all demonstrated as were many many more ideas. See Venetain School children Techniques in the Venice category to the left of the screen for videos and more detail.