‘Mind the Step’ is an award-winning initiative that raises awareness about the role of public staircases in São Paulo (Brazil) and challenges its uses through physical interventions co-developed with local communities. Usually abandoned and degraded, stairways are key common spaces, but often unsafe and underused places in Brazilian cities. At the same time, the transformation of staircases and their reintegration into the pedestrian mobility and public spaces network can unlock multiple opportunities for people to meet, relax, play and exercise.
The initiative sets a tactical urbanism framework to be used as a tool for change. It is based on methods developed and refined by Cidade Ativa during six actions that took place between 2014 and 2019. The framework proposes four steps to deliver a meaningful transformation of urban public spaces, grounded in a solid engagement and participatory process: (1) OVERVIEW, (2) CO-CREATE, (3) CO-PRODUCE and (4) EVALUATE.
The text will expand on why this initiative is relevant, present the history and some specificities of these interventions, explore how this framework can be applied, present an overall impact assessment of the initiative along these years and finalise with lessons learned, the next steps for replicating this work and a briefly comment on the recent role that COVID-19 responses can play in common places like the staircases.
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