Since 1983, the Austrian road code includes a paragraph about residential streets, in German called “Wohnstraße”. On these streets, children are explicitly allowed to play on the street and car traffic is only allowed in walking speed. There are currently 21 “Wohnstraßen” in Graz but not all of them are played on by children. On some of these streets, the original usage is not in the minds of the residents anymore, as children grew up and moved away. Therefore, “Wohnstraßen” have to be reanimated.
On October 1st, a symposium on the subject “The streets are for playing” took place in Graz. In the course of this conference, the Metamorphosis Project initiated a “future factory” with a school class of the model school in Graz. The schoolchildren created posters on which they could express what they don't like in their city and think about how they envision their ultimate child-friendly city in the future (we called it the “tomorrow-city”). They were then allowed to present their ideas to a fictitious city council and mayor and discuss these ideas.
The Metamorphosis space-transformers offer the opportunity to show how we could use parking space for cars in a different way. The initiatives “MoVe iT” (Graz) and “Platz für Wien” (Vienna) advocate for more space for sustainable means of transportation and less space for cars in their cities. Both initiatives borrowed one space-transformer, which was developed for the Metamorphosis project, to promote that. “Platz für Wien” changes the location of the space-transformer in Vienna every other week.
In Graz, the Metamorphosis project focused on the district of Lend. Like in Lend, there are also neighborhood initiatives in the nearby districts of Geidorf and Jakomini. In June, the initiative in Geidorf organized a temporarily street-liberation to advocate for less cars in the city. For this event they used the Metamorphosis space-transformer and the Metamorphosis cargo-bike to call attention for this topic. On the 13th of September there was another temporarily street-liberation in the course of a street festival in Geidorf.
During Metamorphosis, we found out that in the Grünau district, the residents would like to havea public meeting place. This idea was taken up by the city of Zurich. The old square in the Grünau was inaugurated last Saturday and will once again become a lively place for old and young. Two large barbecues, a children's play kitchen, picnic platforms, a new boules court and a long table ensure a cosy get-together.
The metamorphosis space transformer has been further adapted within the framework of the "Zusammenhalt Graz" - Action Plan 2020 against loneliness of the city of Graz.
Loneliness and social isolation have many faces. Regardless of age, income or nationality, we believe that low threshold communication stimuli can help to reduce loneliness.
For one evening, people of Graz were able to test how it feels when the city centre is freed from motorised vehicles. At COVID distances, people could walk through the quiet city and sit on chairs in the middle of a three-lane road. A completely new urban feeling. All of a sudden it became impressively visible how much space is sacrificed to car traffic in our cities. The "space transformers" from METAMORPHOSIS have contributed to the success of this "la strada" event.
Throughout Europe, Metamorphosis has so far implemented over 300 measures that make neighbourhoods child friendly. These measures contribute to physical activity and active mobility by, among others, redistributing urban space to the benefit of children and people in general – as opposed to cars. Planning public space for children could also help reducing the rate of infection and the mortality of a COVID-19 infection in all age groups.
Metamorphosis is initiating activities for child-friendly urban spaces all over Europe. Our project partners in Austria, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Romania, Switzerland and the United Kingdom organized several events to engage the community and to establish sustainable mobility as well. As you can imagine, a wide range of different topics and creative ideas came out. Their overviews are now catalogued in fact sheets available here: http://www.metamorphosis-project.eu/downloads/fact-sheets