At Consorcio Valencia 2007 (CV07), La Marina Living Lab carries many definitions: an experimental ecosystem, an urban laboratory, an open process for urban innovation, but the organising principle is the same – collaboration – which implies co-design, co-creation, co-assessment and joint innovation. Importantly, CV07, is also committed to this being an intergenerational approach – ensuring that La Marina of today – and tomorrow- is for all people, of all ages and walks of life.
One of the first projects launched under the umbrella of La Marina Living Lab featured a partnership between CV07 and SURA – a local educational association which challenges social exclusion through empowering children and young people. The partnership gave rise to a 2-month program, entitled SUREM La Marina, which translated from Spanish means metaphorically “Dreaming of La Marina”. The program engaged 50 participants between the ages of 12 and 14, who visited the harbor weekly in order to “dream up” ideas for the potential transformation of the waterfront. Each session involved a series of activities, designed to stimulate and develop the interpersonal, analytical and artistic skills of the young participants and source their creative ideas. In one session, for example, the teenagers were asked to reflect on the value of public space. In another, they brainstormed potential interventions which could generate that value in La Marina. Throughout the program, the students were constantly challenged to reimagine the harbor in new unorthodox ways. “I imagine a Marina with murals, sculptures and artsy things”, said one participant; “I want a basketball court”, “a sports center”, “a football field” asserted some, while others had a broader message: “I would like to see a Marina for young people, because there aren’t many places for us”.
By asking the teenagers to pitch their visions for La Marina, CV07 was not only gathering fresh ideas, it was opening a route of communication with a specific sector of the population, whose input is rarely sourced and whose presence in La Marina has been poorly understood. The customized activities, prepared by the educators from SURA, were meant to shed light on the preferences, interests and desires of the young participants. Trying to decipher what really makes a certain public space attractive for teenagers can seem like an impossible task, but it is an important one. After all, young people are an invaluable asset in reshaping an obsolete space, especially one in dire need of rejuvenation and rehabilitation. The joint work of CV07 and SURA generated real value for La Marina, but it also benefitted the students who volunteered to participate in the program. “This project succeeded in sparking meaningful relationships between boys and girls, who are of the same age, but come from very different backgrounds”, concludes Joana Silvestre, a secondary school teacher and coordinator of SURA.