© 2019 by Abbas Sbeity

RETHINKING PRISHTINA

Role: Facilitator

Year: 2016

Location: Prishtina, Kosovo

Rethinking Prishtina is a workshop on participatory mapping and design. The workshop took place at Ecoweek Prishtina, Kosovo in summer 2016.

This workshop was tutored by Abbas Sbeity and Malak Rahal.

Workshop Participants:

Argita Perpunja, Flaka Sutaj, Greta Kukeli, Luan Zejnullahu, and Yllka Qarri

The workshop goal was to introduce participatory mapping methods and tools that help participants understand their local communities, map their challenges, and ideate possible interventions.

 

THE SITE

Prishtina’s main boulevard - The Mother Theresa Boulevard; the area between Agim Ramadani Boulevard and luan Haradinaj Boulevard.

RESEARCH PHASE

During this phase, participants observed the site, in order to develop empathy with the residents. Participants were introduced to creative mapping tools. Participants were asked to remove the designer hat to perceive the city as residents through observation and shadowing journeys. The first task was to an Emotional Map that conveys their perception of the city focusing on its hidden features.

The objective was to discover various physical and non-physical assets in the city from a personal perspective - in order to capture stories and tell them through the map.

The maps engaged the participants and prompt their critical thinking in a playful and experiential way.

Afterward, participants observed the city’s dynamics. Through interaction with the residents, participants conducted interviews to gather data. The qualitative research allowed them to understand better the experience of the residents in this area.

SENSEMAKING

Participants and tutors gathered to analyze and identify directions for interventions. Two main patterns were clear:

  1. Mobility in the City

  2. Human Interactions in the City

 

To validate their directions, participants went back to the field to create community maps by identifying personas and conducting interviews and surveys.

INTERVENTION

Based on the two topics, two groups were formed.

1. MOBILITY IN THE CITY

The Mobility group analyzed the fluxes of pedestrians and cars in the area to map the concentration points, circulation patterns, mobility spaces, and the way people commute.

After the first mapping, participants identified a layer of voids–common spaces between residential buildings– that have the purpose of public spaces used as parking lots.  

2. HUMAN INTERACTIONS IN THE CITY

The second group mapped meetings points, interaction spaces, and their formats.

They found that there was a big number of public spaces that allow interaction, taking into consideration that the Boulevard itself is a public pedestrian street, but there was a lack of opportunities for expression and interactive. Most of the people interviewed were skeptical about speaking to the participants and share their views. Something that has to do with the political situation in the country.

Through mapping, another hidden feature emerged, a hidden layer for interaction and expression: Graffitis.

People used graffiti to interact and they found a very good example in one of the streets where it was written: “Eidhe une e kom nje Sprej” (“I, too, have a spray.”) where other people also interacted by replying “me too.”

 

In the final intervention, participants wanted to raise awareness about expression in public spaces and reach out to people to engage them in the process. Based on the problem of public spaces used as parking lots and the lack of expression, the final intervention was a performance–a public provocation inspired by the graffiti.

 

Participants and facilitators performed a flash mob, titled “Park Apo Parking? #EdheTiKeSprej” (Park or Parking? – You, too, have a Spray), in the Zahir Pajaziti Square on the Boulevard during the day. The performance consisted of two parts showcasing the difference of interactions in a public space and in a parking lot. The public was also invited to interact with the participants through discussions, leaflets distribution, and an expression board.

 

Many people stopped by to watch the performance. However, it was still challenging to engage everyone in the conversation. People raised the issues of the lack of playgrounds for children and green public spaces.