Creating cities for children is creating cities for all.

For the attention of: European Child in the City, Municipality of Eindhoven, Bernard van Leer Foundation, place-making consultancies, urban designers and landscape architects. 

What I did and what I found out: I analysed three important urban daily living domains – street, green spaces and play spaces using a mixture of observation, survey, workshops and interviews in the city of Eindhoven, The Netherlands.

The data I found reflects that though there are processes in place that are progressively contributing towards support for more family friendly urban lifestyles, concerns over the importance of outside play, the nature of public green spaces, and safety remain high.

The paper discusses the increasing need for family and child directed consumption spaces in city areas.

Based on my findings, I argue that the role of design, the use of child-friendly indicators and the identification and recognition of locally important factors, all need to be strengthened when planning future family friendly city spaces.

What is already known: Ongoing work on child friendly cities explores and highlights the role of housing, transportation, community networks, play and green, and governance as important prerequisites for living in the city with children.

With the expanding reach of children’s studies within the social sciences, corresponding urban analysis is essential to improve contextual understanding of children’s contemporary problems and needs in the city. In particular, the design of neighbourhoods influence the geographies of everyday life for children, and needs further articulation.

What my study adds: With growing diversity in urban areas, city planning needs to develop mechanisms through which the interests of young children and families are better represented and articulated within planning and design.

The focus of my study is on the influence urban design has on
the ways families with children can access and use public space.

The quality of public space in urban and suburban spaces is crucial for physical, social and cognitive development of young children.

Implications for city policy and practice: By highlighting the role that urban design and planning can play in creating in more inclusive neighbourhoods and cities, my study points to tools and the examples that we can learn from.

For policy and practice this implies, acknowledging the changing demographics of cities, spatial and social requirements, and designing with flexibility and scales in mind.

Through this exercise we learn that it is important to distinguish between levels of possible design and planning interventions, both bottom up and top-down.

Full research article: Reclaiming spaces: child inclusive urban design

This work was supported by the Bernard van Leer Foundation (@BvLFoundation).

Author: Sukanya Krishnamurthy (@sukanyakmurthy)
Editor: Marcus Grant