The summer art workshops at ahha Tulsa art museum are giving elementary school children the opportunity to learn about urban design and city planning in a unique and creative way. A group of third-fifth graders were challenged to design a city, combining various elements such as homes, commercial buildings, roadways and greenspaces into a cohesive whole. The program is the brainchild of TSW Tulsa Planner and Urban Designer Jamie Pierson, who is also an artist and art educator affiliated with ahha Tulsa.
“The idea for this workshop was to help the students envision their neighborhood and city through the lens of art,” said Pierson. “They were challenged to work cooperatively to figure out what components make up a successful community, and how to assemble them into a 3-D representation. We used construction paper, blocks, paint, cardboard cut-outs and more to depict their ideas. The kids quickly learned about the challenges of successful placemaking. One child scolded another for placing a highway next to a neighborhood. Another lively discussion was centered around the issue of walkability.”
The children were encouraged to think about how different elements of a city interact with each other, and how the placement of different buildings and spaces can affect the overall livability and functionality of a community. They also learned about the importance of walkability, and how easy access to green spaces and other community amenities can improve the overall quality of life for residents.
The workshops were not only fun and creative, but also educational. Pierson said, “I loved watching the students come up with fresh ideas as they designed and built their city. My hope is that having gone through this creative process, they now have an understanding of urban design issues and will become advocates for smart planning in their own communities.” This program is a great way to introduce children to the concepts of urban design and city planning in a way that is both engaging and accessible. It is a wonderful opportunity for children to learn about the importance of community development and to become more aware of the impact of the built environment on their daily lives.
We are proud to have Jamie as a part of the TSW team! To check out more of Jamie’s work, check out her Instagram @scraps_designs and website www.heyscrapsdesigns.com