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Shall leads effort to create pop-up parks in Bolivia

Release Date: December 4, 2015
pop-up parks in bolivia

A Bolivian boy tries out a mini balance beam in the pop-up park brought to his neighborhood this summer by an international team led by LTU Associate Professor Scott Shall.


For the past five years Associate Professor Scott Shall, the interim associate dean of LTU’s College of Architecture and Design, has run a series of creative projects in Bolivia through the non-profit he founded, International Design Clinic (IDC).

IDC teams up with communities in need around the world to provide creative work that addresses persistent and damaging conditions. One project made it possible to make high-value artisanal paper using recycled products. Another project created a mobile makerspace and tool library so that the residents of an informal settlement might have the tools and training necessary to produce creative work and develop new businesses.

Working with about 60 volunteers from the U.S., including many Lawrence Tech students and faculty, Shall has coordinated projects with Bolivians, many connected with Universidad de Bolivia.

One of the more exciting projects was a “park-in-a-cart” or pop-up park that provides recreational activities for children in the fringe settlements of El Alto, the second largest city in Bolivia. With an altitude of 13,500 feet, it is also the highest major urban settlement in the world.

Over the course of three summers, a team of American and Bolivian university students got suggestions from various communities, including the children who would one day use such a park, and then experimented with different materials and construction techniques. They ended up with a set of playground structures that can be easily disassembled, transported, and reassembled in different neighborhoods.

IDC pays the expenses of these projects so that they don’t create a burden for the local organizations involved. Shall seeks donations from corporations to cover the expenses, which he keeps low by maintaining a “modest footprint.”

The goal is to try out activities that local organizations can take over. “We are creating prototypes to see if they are worthwhile,” Shall said. “The whole point is that the work is rooted in place, so that our community partners can move the work forward in ways that we could never propose.”

Shall was back in Bolivia recently to mount a five-year retrospective on the IDC projects within the San Francisco Museum of Art of La Paz.

For a more detailed report on the pop-up parks, read this article.

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