Lima -with its 10 million inhabitants- is a clear example of inequality, both on issues of income and access to public services at an urban level. These deficiencies affect more to outlying areas of the city. According to the last survey of Lima Cómo Vamos, only 15.7% of the lower income population are satisfied with the public space available in the place where they live.
Background and Objective
According to the survey of Lima Cómo Vamos, only 15.7% of the lower income population are satisfied with the public space available in the place where they live. Meanwhile, crime and insecurity perception - connected to quality public space - constantly appear as the main problem that worries Lima’s citizens.
Actions and Implementation
One of the main problems was the poor or no knowledge from the society regarding the importance of improving public spaces and its impact on the city’s quality of life, as well as urban approaches such as Placemaking, Urban acupuncture, among others. In order to educate and train people on this, we are developing a toolbox with units that will introduce urban approaches and guidelines on how to carry out an urban intervention. Workshops with explaining this toolbox and our methodology will also take place with communities, authorities, among others.
Other problem that we had from the beginning was the limited political will to include the improvement of public spaces as a local government policy, because it’s not perceived as a priority. To confront this, we are developing workshops with authorities to introduce our work, other experiences around the world and the impact we have achieved.
Participation of stakeholders involved is key to the Ocupa Tu Calle strategy and its sustainability. We promote collaborative work along academic institutions, private companies, local government and organized communities so that each one of them can learn every step of the process, but are also able to contribute from their perspective and experience. For instance, one of our interventions was promoted in partnership with the architecture faculty of the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru and Línea 1, the private company that is responsible of one of Lima’s train lines. The architecture students were able to design and execute an intervention in Linea 1’s area of influence. Afterwards, Linea 1 included the program as part of their corporate responsibility actions. In many other of our interventions, neighbors participate from the beginning by identifying the difficulties and needs of the space they wish to improve and as part of the execution. We want them to experience an active citizenship by taking part on making their city a better place to live.
Additionally, we carry out measurements of the space’s use, activities that take place in it, as well as its users and their perception of the space. This is done previously in weekdays and on saturdays, which allows to collect information from the community of the previous condition of the space and as an input for the preliminary design. A couple of weeks after the execution, the same measurement is done again to evaluate the impact of the intervention.
Outcomes and Impacts
The project will be financially sustained with the support of Lima Cómo Vamos, as the organization that holds the it with the support of its partners. The toolbox will allow the increase of the project’s scale and impact on a national and regional level. In this respect, being part of the Latin American and Peruvian Network of Just, Democratic and Sustainable cities, will be important for the dissemination of the project and its tools. Finally, the project will develop a sustainability strategy to diversify its sources of income.
Cities must be inclusive and democratic places where people can participate freely, and this can be promoted through the construction of quality public spaces. People get together, interact and encounter different types of people, with different opinions, beliefs, looks and this is key for a democratic society. Public spaces are also where cultural celebrations are held, which contributes to the city’s identity.
In low income areas, usually women are the head of the household and the ones that carry their families to a better situation. Designing public spaces specially for them is a way of contributing on the making of an equal gender city. Also the participatory process is a good training for women to learn about working together and organize themselves giving them the opportunity to raise their voice on issues that affect them. This is key to solving and reducing gender inequality in the city. This subject has recently been incorporated to the strategy through partnerships with more experienced organizations on the subject, like Fundación Avina and Huairou Commission.
As part of its sustainability vision and strategy, Ocupa Tu Calle uses reused and donated material for the intervention's furniture. It lowers the impact on the environment and allows flexibility to move and rearrange the space.
Gender and Social Inclusivity
On August 2016, Ocupa Tu Calle organized the First International Forum of Urban Interventions in partnership with the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru, Fundación Avina and UN Habitat. All of the organizations mentioned, mobilized financial and human resources for the preparation of the event. The purpose of this event was to share international and national experiences regarding improvement of public spaces, and to discuss the role of stakeholders involved (authorities, universities, among others). The event allows people interested in public spaces and urban development to learn and generate connections with organizations and specialists. As part of the forum, workshops and walkshops are carried out which allow the opportunity to learn from each other and generate new partnerships. On August 2017, we co-organized this event again and both events have gathered more than 40 initiatives from Peru and Latin America that presented their work and experience. One of the main outcomes of this event is the consolidation of the Network of Urban Interventionists that seeks to become a space for mutual learning and collaborative work. Our toolbox will also be crucial to keep transferring our experience with urban interventions to more people and keep expanding the network.
With clear and defined information about public spaces and cities, neighbors are more willing to participate actively in the protection of their spaces. Community participation is vital during the process to guarantee sustainability and replicability of interventions. For this purpose, Ocupa Tu Calle is developing a toolbox that will gather information and key aspects of urban studies and approaches, as well as guidelines on the typology and methodology to develop urban interventions.
The role of articulating with different stakeholders is key to promote collaborative work for the city’s development. It is important that an organization remains the focal point and coordinates with different sectors, according to the context of the intervention. We are taking this in consideration for future projects by establishing agreements with clear and specific roles and responsibilities for each stakeholder involved.
Generating nonpolitical alliances with organizations from different sectors, increases the strategy’s impact and labor, as well as the public incidence regarding the improvement of public spaces and its importance for city’s sustainability. We are constantly generating contact and partnerships with different organizations, and maintaining previous ones.
Legal voids regarding public space and urban development at a municipal level are an opportunity to promote urban interventions in potential spaces like unused remaining parts of the road, areas near public transportation stations, vacant lots, among others. Our strategy takes advantage of this by identifying every possible space in the city that can be transformed, like our first intervention in which legally we had a permission to occupy the space as an event. Additionally, we are developing legal guidelines for local governments in order for them to establish municipal regulations regarding public spaces which do not exist in Lima.
Resources devoted to delivery
No. Title Source Author Publication Title Volume Number Date Page Number
1 Lima will be scenary to share citizen proposals in favour of public space http://la.network/propuestas-espacios-publicos-en-lima/ LA Network - - June 9th 2017 - Edit
2 In Peru, a grassroots organization gives public spaces back to citizens Devex (https://www.devex.com/news/in-peru-a-grassroots-organization-gives-public-spaces-back-to-citizens-89780) Kelli Rogers - - March 15th 2017 - Edit
3 Limeños occupy their street El País (https://elpais.com/elpais/2016/08/15/planeta_futuro/1471262695_946069.html) Marcos Domínguez - - August 17th 2016 - Edit
4 Pocket park: The revolution of public spaces in LIma Arch Daily (http://www.archdaily.pe/pe/772862/parques-de-bolsillo-la-revolucion-del-espacio-publico-en-lima) Fabio Rodríguez Bernuy - - September 1st 2015 - Edit
5 Parklets example National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) - Global Street Design Guide - 2016 237
Three (Rímac, Miraflores and San Borja) of the seven municipalities that we have worked with, have included the improvement of public spaces as part of their actions and have created programs focused on them. We have been counceling Miraflores Municipality in order to develop a legislation focused on public spaces, and on the promotion of urban interventions. Another of the municipalities used the results of our measurements to support their public spaces program. Additionally, we were invited to be part of workshops to give feedback to the proposed legislation for the management and protection of public spaces organized by the Housing committee of the National Congress.