¿Cómo salvar la ciudad? | Gema Santamaría

” The cities are the major destroyer of the ecosystem and the major threat for the survival of the man on the planet ” (Richard Rogers, Ciudades para un pequeño planeta.)1

Throwing the sight behind I remember with nostalgia when the city was alive, when it was transmitting emotions, it was a prolongation of the housing, a place of meeting. But with the new bosses of urban growth everything is changing, the streets empty of content and turn into lands of nobody, into those who are stretched to the isolation and the social cohesion gets lost. We are creating uninhabitable and untenable cities, which become dangerous, that have forgotten his function as social space.

Definitively, the city has forgotten his citizens. It is incomprehensible and outrageous to see as the future of the cities relapses into inexpert hands without formation, without civic beginning or mulberry trees, which in most cases move for economic interests. It is necessary to stop of imminent form this architecture of the spectacle, this urbanism without citizens.

Since arquitecta and as teacher I propose with humility my particular solution to this tremendous chaos: EDUCATION. It is not a random offer not capricious, is a firm and convinced offer. It is based on the results of the work of an own work of investigation, ” Sustainable Urbanism on Plastic and Visual Education “, carried out with the pupils of 1 º and 2 º of Secondary Obligatory Education of the IES Rei on Jaume de Alzira, Valencia.

Eixample blau | Manel & Marc

The children are the future, and for it it is absolutely necessary to form them as critical citizens, with civic conscience, to educate them in the sustainable urbanism and in the good practice for the development of the city, which they are conscious and responsible with his environment, which they grow with the respect for the city. Only thus we will have cities sustainable and compromised with the world, which in addition spoil his citizens.

Clear that it is important to form our pupils in history, mathematics or languages but unfortunately we forget to prepare them for the most important paper of his life: that of citizens of the world. If we educate the future generations we will obtain that the children are conscious citizens, who love and protect his city. They must develop a special relation with her and to assume his commitment, his rights and duties.

” The child has right to receive an education that develops his capacities and that he it instructs in the peace, the friendship, the equality and the respect for the environment ” (Art. 29 of the Convention on the Child’s Laws, approved by the United Nations November 20, 1989 in New York.)

Several experiences worldwide support the interest and the importance of introducing the child in the world of the architecture and the urbanism, I will emphasize some of them: as the project ” The city of the children “ (Fano, Italy), ” Children and Architecture ” (Australia), ” Architecture by Children, ABC “ (Ohio, USA), ” Kid Architecture camp “, (Illinois, USA), ARKKI, School of Architecture for Children and Youth. (Helsinki, Filand), ” Architecture in the Schools: Hands on Learning Program “. Washington Architectural Foundation. (USA), … the mistake is to focus these contents only on voluntary programs or summer camps. It is necessary that they could come to all the children and young women, by it they must be given in the school centers, must form a part of his obligatory education.

In the curriculum of current education, and of initial form to introduce the offer, the subject that must receive these contents is A Plastic and Visual Education. In her they present a great variety of methods of work for the pupil (models, planes, sketches…) and he supposes an improvement in his capacities of design and composition, as well as of spatial organization. The images and the practical works are the didactic material most adapted to carry out the learning, since in many occasions the pupils are not capable of expressing (and of the same form, they are not capable of understanding) in a way so rich as do it with images.

The investigation realized with the children is based on the checking of this initial hypothesis: to emphasize the importance of educating our pupils in Urbanism and Sustainable Development as measure correctora of his innate knowledge, and his efficiency as possible solution to the irresponsible management and to the lamentable condition of the current cities.

For it, inside the investigation, a very simple activity appears to the children: ” Design your ideal city “, that I will develop later very brief.

We depart from a common exhibition for two groups, 1 º and 2 º from IT, in that is explained to them what is a city and how it works, attending to different parameters as size, services, equipments, types of transport or urban elements. For the pupils of the group of 1 º of IT an annexe, key point is added in the study, in which we explain of form adapted to his level what is a sustainable city, what parameters it must fulfill and what elements it must contain. Later we propose to both groups the individual design of his ideal city.

En el estudio comparativo de las ciudades obtenidas en ambos grupos, se aprecia cómo los alumnos formados en urbanismo sostenible crean ciudades cuya premisa principal es el respeto al medio ambiente. Asimilan los conceptos aprendidos y los ponen en práctica, proyectan ciudades con un patrón de diseño ecológico y sustentable. Respetuosas y comprometidas con el ciudadano.

Nevertheless, the pupils who have not been learn in it they create similar cities to current, crammed with vehicles and of malls, cities that do not respect the basic premises to assure the quality of life of his citizens. They do not know another boss of city, though they are conscious of the existence of any important points, as the recycling or the alternative energies, are not capable of applying it to the city. They want to introduce it in his interventions but they get lost in the action. The pupils have not the necessary tools to include this new scale, do not know how to do it because nobody has taught them. Nevertheless, once they have learned it they will assimilate and remember it, will be points always present in his concept of ideal city. Simple and effective.

2. “If the children take part in projects of the city they will feel it, now as children and tomorrow as adults, since “his”, city that it is necessary to take care and defend” (Francesco Tonucci, The cildren city)

The obtained results confirm the importance of forming our pupils in this matter like them we form in any other one, so that it helps us with the labor of generate conscious and responsible citizens who adopt an attitude of respect and commitment before the city. Thus we are forming adult futures that will base his actions and decisions on these premises. In a future they will be able to propose or to carry out well-taken and based interventions very removed from the speculation and from the economic interests. With it we will obtain alive cities, thought to improve the quality of life of those who live them. Does not this intention deserve a space in the current educational curriculum?

Gema Santamaría García

Gratefulness to the illustrators Manel and Marc for yielding his photo eixample blau, in the principal image of the front page.


1. ROGERS, R. (1997) Ciudades para un pequeño planeta, 1º ed, 5º tirada, Barcelona, Ed. Gustavo Gili.

2. TONUCCI, F. (1997), La ciudad de los niños, 5ª ed., Madrid, Fundación Germán Sánchez Ruipérez. The image corresponds with an informative pamphlet on ARKKI, School of Architecture for Children and Youth (Filand)

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