Design influences from around the world
9 June 2023
After working at Pozzoni for seven years, the business supported my decision to take a six-month sabbatical to travel to Latin America.
During my time away, I observed a few urban design features which seemed to be in response to social and economic inequalities more prevalent in countries such as Mexico or Bolivia, which I feel offer lessons that could be applied to European design.
- Walkable cities: in Mexico City, a population with low levels of car ownership, affordable and widespread public transport is a necessity, combined with urban environments designed to provide all necessary amenities within a 10-minute walking distance of transport hubs.
- Capability focused cities: in some Latin American countries, less economically available health services have created populations with higher instances of long-term injury, cane users, wheelchair users, or older people without specialist care. As a result, rest stops, weather shelters, benches & parks are extremely common in order to cater towards people with alternative physical capabilities.
Prioritising walkability and capability focused design in this way seems to have produced environments where people are enabled to live much more of their lives outdoors, regardless of weather conditions. This has wide reaching health benefits to people of all capabilities and all economic means, as well as providing boosts to the local economy through increased footfall to commercial ventures. As an example, in La Paz, Bolivia, the high-altitude results in extreme weather fluctuations, yet the city is vibrant with urban life and diverse economy.
Pozzoni specialities include designing housing/neighbourhoods for intergenerational use as well as public building typologies, such as in our education and leisure sectors, where designing for people of all mobility levels is an integral part of the culture and values of the business. We consider that designing this way has wide reaching benefits to the overall populace.
You can read part 2 of my story ‘Versatile design; lessons from the road’ here.