urban planning

Designing cities for children

A child-friendly city not only benefits children, but also makes a city safer, healthier and more sustainable for everyone, according to a new report by Arup. Suzanne Swaysland reports.

THE aim of urban planning is to create a better place for its inhabitants. Cities Alive: Designing for Urban Childhoodsargues that the future designs of cities need to be child-centric. Through a series of case studies conducted worldwide, this collaborative report by Arup’s Foresight, Research and Innovation and Integrated City Planning teams has identified some potential solutions to the challenges of urban living.

the message Child-friendly urban planning advocates a coherent and systematic approach to planning and designing cities that improves children’s development, health and access to opportunities, moving well beyond simply providing playgrounds. A child-


friendly city not only benefits children, but also makes a city safer, healthier and more sustainable for everyone. Two concepts that are fundamental to

creating child-friendly cities are everyday freedoms and children’s infrastructure. Everyday freedoms include the ability to play and socialise, and children’s infrastructure provides the physical environment that allows them to explore these freedoms. Our urban environment includes the places where we live, shop

and work, with the streets and the spaces in front of people’s homes comprising around 25 per cent of a city’s space. Any redevelopments to these areas have huge impact both socially and economically. Arup argues that the quality of life

experienced by city dwellers - specifically children - will determine the global future of everyone, meaning that child-friendly urban planning is necessary to creating inclusive cities that work better for all residents. They maintain that building cities with the needs of children in mind can help to improve the economy and long-term growth of the urban environment. Our urban context is changing. Currently, more than one billion children1 live in

cities, and it is estimated that 60 per cent of city dwellers will be under the age

Image: BY-NC 2.0 Jeff Laitila

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