September 26th, 2005
The experience of organizing an event in “Al Thakafeh” street has highlighted some major issues in my mind regarding the use of the space. When I was studying architecture I’ve learned that people can use the space in a different manner than the designer aimed for. For example people may use the stairs to sit and gather while leaving spaces designated to sit in. In that case the stairs may provide a space for more people to sit or a better view… or maybe there is no place to sit so they transformed the stairs into an auditorium, so that they can watch other people walking and talking.
Anyway, I discovered that lots of people do not know about the street, not even why it is called “Al Thakafeh st.” And lots of them do not know about the gallery. So organizing one or two events in the street is not the only perfect way to get them to know it.
Another thing that I saw gave me one end of the solution’s thread. When I was working in the gallery I saw some kids playing football next to the gallery. Then the gallery keeper went crazy and shouted to the kids not play near the glass… at that moment I thought if there is a sign that tells people not to play football, I guess it would be a nicer way to tell the kids not to play, and maybe the keeper will just need to point to the sign for the kids without saying any word.
It seems that a well designed signage system is needed in the street to serve the following objectives
1- Teach people how to use the space, and give them more information about the use of the space.
2- Give people more information about the street, the spaces and what else they can do.
3- To inform people on how they can participate in some cultural event and encourage them to do so.
4- To have a nicer way to tell people what to do and not to do rather than screaming and shouting.
A signage system could serve more than that, but the important thing is to close the information gap between people and the street, which I saw clearly in the few days I spent there.
This is another dream which I would like to do for this street. I am ready to do it for no-money, because it is going to be a great learning experience for me and the outcome will serve a greater cause.
Some may say that people here do not respect signs. My answer is summed in this point. Respecting signs depends on the kind of activity and space we are working in. It also depends on the design of signs; if the signs are not well designed, it will not force respect. A good design system includes a detailed study of how people can react and behave in such a space, and what they need to learn and know about it.
One last note, I just noticed that even the trash cans in the street do not have signs!!
I really would love to work on a project like this.