Partners: Amel Association International
Funding: UNICEF Lebanon; Holcim Foundation for Sustainable Construction
Inclusive public spaces in Lebanon are scarce and often not considered a priority in the public works plans of local municipalities. An inclusive public space is somewhere that should be accessible by everyone, including women, children, the elderly and people with disabilities. Vulnerable groups, such as children with disabilities, greatly benefit from using these kinds of spaces as they provide an accessible place for them to play with their parents and friends.
In Lebanon, where social segregation and tension is prominent, inclusive public spaces can act as a physical place for equality. However, most public spaces do not offer safe or welcoming spaces for everyone. As a result, it is often difficult to incentivise vulnerable groups to use these spaces as they may face either physical or psychological barriers. In addition to this, there is also a widespread misconception that inclusive playgrounds are expensive. For instance, it is often thought that play items may need to be imported from abroad. This assumption keeps public bodies such as municipalities, schools and NGOs from investing, or even considering implementing such interventions.
With this project we aim to raise awareness about the importance of inclusive public spaces by engaging local community members and different municipalities in the design of these innovative spaces. This practical approach intends to empower the local community by demonstrating that inclusive spaces can be created using local material, knowledge and skills – benefiting both the local economy and its citizens.
The design of Qaraoun inclusive park sought to create an iconic structure of a giant bird that reflects the natural character of the area, an idea which emerged from the participatory design phase with the local community. The main park structure is inspired by the migrating birds that fly over the Qaraoun lake. This bird-shaped playground aims to encourage imaginative play activities as well as creating a significant landmark in the town of Qaraoun.
Other functions and opportunities for play were placed around the main structure. This includes seating areas, boulders and games for toddlers. With spaces for active, imaginative and sensory play, the playground has multiple opportunities for inclusive play experiences.
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