Launching MCTspaceLab’s Tree per House Initiative (TpHI)
Tree per House Toolkit authors: MCTspaceLab team
Along the lines of MCTspaceLab’s long term vision ‘to provide high quality public spaces that promote socio-economic interaction along with the empowerment of the community’, and the aim ‘to enhance and develop existing neighbourhood through vibrant and sustainable public spaces’, MCTspaceLab brings to you the Tree per House Initiative (TpHI) as a first step towards initiating a long term change. After careful participatory research, the TpHI aims to address: The need for shaded walkways and the need for vibrant public spaces within a neighborhood.
يقدم لك MCTspaceLab مبادرة شجرة لكل بيت (TpHI) كخطوة أولى نحو الشروع في إحداث تغيير طويل المدى. وبعد بحث دقيق مع المجتمع ، يهدف TpHI إلى معالجة الآتي: الحاجة إلى ممرات مظللة والحاجة إلى الأماكن العامة النابضة بالحياة داخل الحي. وهذا يتماشى مع رؤية MCTspaceLab طويلة المدى «لتوفير مساحات عامة عالية الجودة تعزز التفاعل الاجتماعي والاقتصادي مع تمكين المجتمع» ، والهدف «تعزيز وتطوير الأحياء القائمة من خلال
الأماكن العامة النابضة بالحياة والمستدامة
Introduction and background
Urbanization processes have taken momentum exponentially in the Sultanate of Oman since the oil boom of the 1970s. With the land lottery system (royal decree 81/84 and 125/2008 that allocates state-owned lands to Omani citizens for residential purposes as a scheme for housing public-welfare), the government has provided easier access to land ownership to their citizens. Rapid urbanization is thus tackled by authorities through provision of larger infrastructural development (eg. provision of streets, electricity, waste collection etc...) within city level whilst the smaller “urban living rooms” within a neighbourhood remain concerns for the residents to tackle. Hitherto, the Sultanate has been operating primarily with modes of top-down planning approaches following contemporary planning systems. However, as the population density in the capital city of Muscat starts to rise in the last decade, a need for incorporating other planning modes as well as actors is evident.
MCTspaceLab finds potential to tap into the discussion of organization and usage of space at the neighborhood level. At this level, we believe, that the empowered citizens can take charge to appropriate the spaces around them as per their need. MCTspaceLab, works as a facilitator in the process and provides capacity building workshops, while the residents take matters into their own hands. The Tree per House Initiative is step in the direction of bringing about the participation of the community in the development of their neighbourhood spaces.
What is ‘Tree per House Initiative (TpHI)’?Tree per House Initiative (TpHI) aims to explore the potential of bottom-up planning, in the context of Muscat. In order to explain the TpHI, a clear understanding of the current land division and ownership within neighborhoods in Muscat is required. The two primary defining elements in a streetscape within a neighborhood is the individual plot boundary of residential or commercial/residential buildings that are privately owned followed by the street network that is a space provided and regulated by the local municipality. Between those two well defined spaces, is a connecting buffer space. This buffer zone in particular exhibits a different system as it is built and regulated by the individual plots, yet is it a semi-public space that is owned by the municipality. Building on this, the TpHI identifies and seizes to optimise these spaces within neighborhoods that are semi-public.
TpHI Approach: DIY Urbanism - Tactical Urbanism
Learning from urban practitioners around the world the concept of Tactical Urbanism has proved to be successful in developing small scale temporary urban installations that hold the potential to transform spaces within neighbourhoods. With the publication ‘Tactical Urbanism: Short-term Action, Long-term Change‘ young urbanists Lydon, Mike, Dan Bartman, Ronald Woudstra and Aurash Khawarzad showcased temporary actions around North America which brought to light the potential that such actions can have on the development of public spaces within our cities. Furthermore, in the early 2000s, Studio Urban Catalyst based in Berlin explored this concept in post-industrial Europe. Tactical Urbanism also referred to as DIY Urbanism is a concept where residents have the potential of creating liveable, safe spaces in order to enhance their own public space. With low-cost, easy to use local materials, residents’ initiative starting as small-scale temporary interventions, holds the potential to quickly scale up to permanent long-term changes to the neighbourhood fabric.
In light of the current emphasis of localising the Sustainable Development Goals, Oman is gradually moving up on the scale. TpHI aims to create a ripple effect by scaling up from a micro to a macro scale. TpHI keeps the following SDGs in the core of the initiative directly working with: Goal 13 – Climate Action, Goal 15 – Life on Land and Goal 04 - Quality Education while keeping Goal 11 – Sustainable Communities as the umbrella. The aim of the initiative is thus not only to develop spatial qualities within a neighbourhood but also having an impact on the social capital by providing quality spaces for the neighbours.
Structure of the toolkit
Figure 2: Tree per House Initiative introductory toolkit
This toolkit is divided into four segments:
Part 2 – provides a step by step procedure of how to get started. It includes all materials and tools that is needed for the process. The list of suggested tools is connected to the selection of plants and pots that you would want to have. They are easy to use and follow a DIY concept which can be handled by all age groups. The price range of these tools and materials range between 1 OMR to 5 OMR and can be easily found in your nearest hardware store or planting nurseries.
3A: Catalogue of plant type –
provides a starter catalogue presenting a selection of plant types dividing
them into three categories: Vegetative plants that can provide fruits;
Flowering plants that can provide colourful flowers and native shade giving
Part 3B: Evaluation chart for plant types - provides a simple evaluation chart with which you can self-evaluate the type of plant you would like to use for your pot! The parameter of this chart are as follows:
- Shade scale: Identifies the amount of shade a plant can produce in its full grown form.
- Native scale: Identifies which plants are native to the region and therefore needs less resources to grow.
- Productivity scale: Identifies which plants produce edible products or flowering plants.
- Price scale: Identifies the price range comparison between the different types of plants
- Maintenance scale: Identifies which plants need more maintenance in terms of growth, regular watering and fertilizer
Part 4A: Catalogue and evaluation pot type- provides a catalog of different pots that you can buy or make further providing a simple evaluation chart along with this toolkit with the following parameters of assessment:
-Production process: Some of the pots we suggest can be produced at home with simple material and tools. Therefore, this scale helps you identify how much time and how many materials is required for the process.
- Availability in Muscat: On the other hand, if you would like to buy the pots directly, this scale provides a simple indication of its availability at proximity in Muscat.
- Durability: This scale identifies the ‘long-lasting’ nature of your pots.
- Price scale: Identifies the price range comparison between the different types of pots presented in this toolkit including cost of purchase and cost of building the pot from scratch.
- Maintenance: Identifies the level of maintenance required after your plants have been potted.
Part 4B - provides an illustrated diagram
of how to get started with making moulded pots
Part 4C – provides an illustrated diagram of how to get started with making wooden pots
The toolkit further taps on promoting the usage of recyclable material and thus introduces wooden pallets as a possible material for making planting pots. They are widely used for storage, stacking or transporting materials and are thrown away once they serve this purpose. Therefore, wooden pallets can be found for free around construction sites and large dumpsites.
Other community workshops by MCTspaceLab: