Cut the Kids some Slack

RECYCLART 13-15 Rue de Manchester B1080


As birthrates across Europe continue to diminish and the population gets older and older, the focus in the architectural discussion is progressively shifting toward people in later stages of life and the way in which they interact with architecture and the city. In the current scenario, children and their parents risk becoming less politically relevant and unable to attract the attention of public administrations and private investors alike. For adults, childhood is a mystery, a lost world of wonder. Children are not only people that need to be included and protected in cities but can also be creative agents that carry their own points of view. In particular, the dimension of play and adventure plays a crucial role in children's minds, a role that we, as adults, often forget. The talk postulates that working with slack space requires a playful mind: so let’s see how we can cut the kids some slack. What can we learn from how children see the city? How can children’s play affect how we look at public space? What are the practices that saw children take an active role in shaping their space, and what are the possibilities for new experiences in the future?


18:30 Doors with presentation of workshop results ARCHIKIDS on “Slack Space” 
19:30 Talk (EN)


Following the participation of the Spazio Libero Festival in the Archikids series, the talk gathers practitioners from Belgium and Italy to discuss the role of children in architecture. In particular, we will explore urban, collaborative and participative practices in which children play a crucial role as recipients and active designers.


Emanuele Barili
Omar Kashmiry 
Yannick Roels - Cultureghem 
Lisa Matthys 
Maria Glioanna - Casalina 
Francesca Chessa


About the festival & the notion of “Slack Space”

The Spazio Libero festival is one of the winning projects of the public notice Architecture Festival - II edition, promoted by the Generale Creatività Contemporanea of the italian Ministry of Culture. The festival in its first edition took place in the Italian city of Ferrara between April 15th and April 30th with a series of parallel events involving the community and opening the discussion to different users abou the contemporary debate on the condition of the middle-size European city and the role of slack space within it. 

“Slack space” is an expression borrowed from the world of IT that defines the residual space available on a hard disk. Jeremy Till, author of the book Architecture Depends, defined Slack Space: available space, not necessarily located in a building, that can be appropriated and filled with different things. Spaces that encourage the user to make decisions, exercise their agency, and interact with others. A kind of space that potentially shifts the profession's interest towards programmatic flexibility, making it available to be resocialized and re-politicized, in which authority and the production of meaning are gradually returned to the use. 

After the events in Ferrara, the festival proposes to extend the discussion moving to the city of Brussels. Here the themes of the city and slack space are reshuffled and dropped onto the Belgian site, revolving around the theme of neighbourhoods, municipalities and how public and private space is shared by citizens and in particular by kids.

From this discussion was born a collaboration with Recyclart, for the creation of two events on 11 October 2023: a workshop in the framwork of ARCHIKIDS and an evening talk with young professionals and local realities called "CUT THE KIDS SOME SLACK". The ARCHIKIDS workshop will be run with Francesca Chessa, an illustrator who already has a wide experience in workshops with kids. The aim of the workshop is to have children work with recycled materials by having them draw freely on fabric. The freedom and possibilities that emerge during work will certainly contribute to the design of a slack space that will turn into the Scenography of the event.


Organizing Committee: Luca Barello (atelier mobile), Alberto Geuna (Politecnico di Milano), Francesco Alberti (Università di Ferrara), Clara Cucco (LVNG). 

Scientific Committee: Niccolò Suraci (atelier mobile, LVNG), Martino Tattara (KU Leuven), Federico Zanfi (Politecnico di MIlano), Agnese Bertello (Ascolto Attivo), Antonello Alici (Università Politecnica delle Marche, British School at Rome, ICAM), Gastone Ave (Università di Ferrara), Harri Hautajarvi (independent researcher and critic).


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