tel aviv beachfront

A common site along the beachfront in Tel Aviv, as well as in most public parks and green spaces. They are completely free/ public workout stations! There are no weights involved- all the machines only work against the users own body weight.

There is a wide array of exercise equipment, enough to do a full body workout as well as some cardio exercises as well. But the most incredible thing is that these stations are always full! But why? Because they cannot be that expensive and they require minimal maintenance, the local government could manage to install these workout spaces at many locations. This means that it was not a single attraction on the other side of the city, but rather a regular establishment. When there are many workout stations, they become a regular site and people are more motivated to use them, not to mention the fact that with 10 locations rather than 1, no one has to consider that it might be to busy to utilise!

The reason that these workout stations are included in my ‘what’s right list’ is because they are an excellent model for what a big difference minimal investment projects can make in a city. With a small investment, the government can encourage people to come to a location and to stay at the location. Plus, because many people exercise at night, there are more people out and about at later times at night, near these stations, thus adding more ‘eyes’ to the street/ location. This goes without saying, but healthy people are happy people, so again, a minimal investment can reap big rewards.

What else can happen? If you refer to the Dumbarton Strategy, we see how one small investment leads to another, which leads to another and rather than applying top down urbanism, where we spend £35m and wonder why no one is interested in our development, we spend £3k which leads to many happy people and the next £5k investment leads to even more happy people! This is extremely evident along the beaches in Tel Aviv, where we see the workout stations, and later some interesting new water fountains, then a body weight scale gets incorporated into the beach promenade, and then free wifi is installed and it is a positive snowball effect.

This model of minimal investments to create the buzz, the flow the usage in an area is what is lacking from top down urbanism, and although no single strategy can create a good place, it needs to be better understood the disproportionate improvements that small investments can make in an area.

 



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