School yards: Openness, Adaptation, Sensitisation, Innovation and Social ties
Over the last decades, the frequency of heatwaves has increased in Paris and unlike the general impression of the verdant and scenic Parisian gardens, the city in its heart is densely overbuilt. While today the average proportion of accessible green spaces in European cities is around 18.2 m2 per resident, Paris ranks below the average in the list as it provides 14,69m2 per resident. Realizing the urgency of the heatwave threat, especially for the vulnerable population, Paris took the initiative to transform schoolyards into “cool” islands, by integrating nature-based solutions for shading and storm-water management. Thus, eventually, every neighborhood would acquire a small park - a cool and shaded refuge for days of extreme heat, considering that every Parisian resides within a radius of 250m from a public school.
The true resilient value of the OASIS concept lies beyond the environmental challenges as the OASIS schoolyards project aspires to strengthen the neighborhoods’ social cohesion in the long term. The project has developed a well-structured co-design process with the school community, aiming to prioritize the children’s wellbeing and their active participation throughout all stages of the project, from the design to the construction and maintenance of the schoolyard. Furthermore, the project anticipates establishing the schoolyard as the neighborhood’s meeting place by opening its access to the local residents after school hours. Therefore, the broader local community has been invited to contribute with their ideas and skills in the programming and co-management of the spaces and embrace the schoolyards as a shared space for their community. Within the frame of the UIA OASIS Schoolyards project, the City of Paris has successfully transformed 10 schoolyards and developed the appropriate framework and tools to facilitate the upscale of the project in the future. The City’s vision is to apply the OASIS approach and transform all 700 Parisian schoolyards by 2050.
In a nutshell, the inspiring O.A.S.I.S. concept (O- Openness, A– Adaptation, S – Sensitization, I- Innovation, S- Social ties) can be interpreted in the following six objectives:
- Integrate nature-based solutions to the schoolyard design as a mitigation measure for the Urban Heat Island effects and surface flooding.
- Adopt a bottom-up design approach by co-designing the schoolyards with their everyday users; the children as well as by engaging the broader neighborhood in the process.
- Design the schoolyards as a learning landscape for children and raise awareness of climate-related challenges
- Open access to the local residents of all ages after school hours making the schoolyard an area of respite for days of extreme heat but also converting it into the neighborhood’s hub
- Establish a shared understanding of the co-use and co-ownership of the schoolyards by introducing an innovative governance scheme based on the principles of participatory democracy.
- Monitor and evaluate the pilot process in order to develop a replicable OASIS framework
- City of Paris
- ESIEE - higher education and research institute
- LIEPP - higher education and research institute
- CAUE de Paris - Architecture, Urban Planning and Environment public service provider
- Ligue de l’enseignement - Federation of Paris (LIGUE) - education association
- Meteo France - meteorological and climatological institute