Fulfilling dreams

  • Posted on: 14 January 2019
  • By: Katia De Gennaro
kids playing on a skate ramp

Metamorphosis is rather about experimenting than about final solutions. That’s the lesson the Meran/o Metamorphosis team learned this winter when we tried an intervention on the central square of the Obermais/Maia Alta neighbourhood constantly occupied by parking offenders. In the vision building workshop we held in May 2018, about 30 stakeholders produced several suggestions on how to get rid of the cars that were being left in the non-parking zone on a regular basis, causing danger and disturbance to pedestrians. While many of the proposals definitely exceeded the budget and power of our team, one suggestion coming from a group of kids sounded very cool: why not set a skate ramp in the very middle of the square, in order to re-gain possession of that public space and discourage car holders from stopping there? So far Obermais / Maia Alta was lacking a skating facility, and having a half pipe in the neighbourhood was a long-nourished wish of the youngsters.

So, incredibly for ourselves, we went for the construction of a wooden skate ramp that would stay on the square as a temporary installation for a couple of month. This happened in September 2018, in the course of a 4-day open air workshop organized in cooperation with the nearby located youth center. The kids themselves helped building the half pipe and setting it on the square. The youth worker in charge of the youth center told us that the boys and girls could not believe their dream was going to be fulfilled. On September 21, the ramp was ready. The inauguration party was very exciting and moving for all participants: kids, parents and the Metamorphosis team.

The installation stayed on the square until December. It became a meeting point for kids and families. Toddlers used it for climbing, for older children it served as a slide, and youngsters enjoyed skating on it. Still, parking offenders did not avoid the spot. The violations diminished, but the problem persisted. In December, the ramp was moved to a space next to a schoolyard.

Has the local Metamorphosis team’s intervention in Obermais / Maia Alta failed? On one hand, it seems like the skate ramp experiment didn’t meet the expectations. On the other hand, though, the team’s main concern was to “activate” the square and to encourage residents to re-gain possession of a central area of their neighbourhood. Metamorphosis, in fact, is not about final solutions. The experimental nature of the project is aimed at pointing out new ways of managing public space and highlighting its potentials. As a result of the intervention, people are now more aware of their needs and of ways of accomplishing them. Also, there is a very concrete consequence of the intervention that will very much please youngsters in Obermais / Maia Alta: given the success of the skate ramp experiment, the neighbourhood council decided to buy a skating facility and to place it permanently in a schoolyard next to the central square. As for the parking violation problem, stakeholders and Metamorphosis are currently looking for complementary measures that could help inhibit car traffic on the square.