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Fruitycity - Not Just Another Disneyland
Drawings, plans, elevations
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Fruitycity is inspired by UNICEF’s Child Friendly Cities Initiative and the global effort to transform education. We are urbanizing fast. The cities we create are child-unfriendly. This, among other things, means decreasing opportunities for outdoor, natural play and exploration, car-dependence, chronic non-activity, and alienation. Moreover, our education system is obsolete and unresponsive to the challenges of the fast changing economy and social fabric. Fruitycity is an art, architectural, building, and storytelling project linked to school curriculum. Characters representing different species forge friendship, find our adult-created, adult-centered, and child-unfriendly cities intolerable, and move out to create their own city: Fruitycity. The characters and architecture of Fruitycity’s prototype are created from natural and cultural products without manipulating their original forms too much. This is to motivate children to start their own design and building their own city using resources available to them thereby exploring nature, culture, and science. What is unique about this design principle is that, it could make almost any child of any culture to think that design, building, and art is not that difficult and evokes him or her to do similar things, removing the mystification and elitism about art, architecture, and city-building. By so engaging children and young people in exploring the universe and the making of cities, Fruitycity will help them enhance their capacity to learn, create, care, and survive; acquire the knowledge, skills, and attitude to participate in decisions about their city, and make meaningful contributions in bringing about sustainable transformations in both their education and their cities. Fruitycity particularly singles out children’s reducing opportunities to play, explore, and build in natural environments and aims to create such opportunities in as small spaces as crowded city schools and neighborhoods could provide. Through our teacher/parent training programs and other channels we will encourage schools and neighborhoods to create spaces for children to build their own model of Fruitycity, and assist them in coordinating and facilitating the building process. Selected designs and stories from children’s projects will be incorporated into enriching Fruitycity’s prototype. Fruitycity also offers experimental alternatives in city-building and education from which decision makers may learn. Design and other relevant institutions and communities will be involved at the implementation of the program. This way, Fruitycity will create a platform of dialogue and action for all to work together to help heal our cities and transform education. Bringing widespread and sustainable transformations in the process of urbanization in Africa and elsewhere requires not only designing and building for, but, most importantly, WITH children. Unless city-building is made part of their education, entertainment, and day-to-day life realizing their full participation is improbable. A strategy for sustained public participation in city-building is also needed. Scholars in the field suggest that transforming education systems needs strategies that synthesize the physical, the biological, and the digital in school curriculum. Fruitycity aims to offer such a strategy. Fruitycity plans to start lean with storybooks, gradually introducing other products and services, hoping to establish in different cultures to realize its potential global impact.
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