Partners: Terre des Hommes Italy in Lebanon
Funding: UNICEF Lebanon
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 Barja inclusive park focussed on creating a compact, accessible and dynamic play space. The project site is an existing public park that overlooks the Mediterranean Sea. To create a dedicated play area within this existing public place, the project transformed a section of the parking space adjacent to the park.
The sea view from the park greatly informed the design for this space. To maximise the view, the playground was built along an accessible ramp that leads to a raised platform from which you can see the sea.
Like in Arsal and Hermel, the games incorporated into the playground structure focussed on enhancing active, imaginative and sensory play experiences. The position of the games across the play structure were also chosen to ensure that children with disabilities could play alongside their non-disabled peers. The playground structure has a distinctive shape and was built using locally sourced steel and timber.
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