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Playground city

Cities are the manifestation of human complexities. The urban complicated lifestyle engenders many problems that people are continuously trying to address. Key among which are the impact we are having on the environment, stress and anxiety, pollution and its impact on our health and wellbeing. I think there are some small steps that we can accommodate to address some of aspects of these pressing issues, for example, the promotion of walking.

Let’s try to think of some aspects that can benefit from encouraging walking: 1. It is an environmentally friendly way of moving short distances and economically efficient as it is free and does not require investing in any type of gear, bikes…etc., 2. It helps with personal physical and mental health, 3. It helps develops better personal understanding of the community and the feel of belonging, 4. It helps creating safer streets with more human presence, and the list goes on.

So, after years of lockdowns, I feel that it’s the right time to find ways to promote walking in our cities. We as urban designers should facilitate the promotion of a healthier lifestyle in our cities and create a cleaner environment to live within. Now with almost 64% of the UK population are overweight or obese and nearly 40% of the kids are overweight or obese as the research conducted by the Nuffield Trust and Health Foundation showed.

fig1: https://www.nuffieldtrust.org.uk/resource/obesity#background

fig2: https://www.nuffieldtrust.org.uk/resource/obesity#background

As I said earlier, we do not need to look into paradigm shifting solutions, there are small adjustments and changes, easy to implement, that collectively would lead eventual improvement. For instance, why do not we make some parts of public squares and maybe some pedestrian paths more attractive for kids and their parents to walk. At a small cost of some colourful paints on the grounds these spaces can be transformed to fun spaces for all members of the public to enjoy. They could be also used to educate children while they are having a fund walk with their family, after all learning through playing is an established method of education in the early years of school.

fig3: https://dailyhive.com/edmonton/snakes-and-ladders-game-edmonton-parkview

fig4:https://www.pinterest.co.uk/pin/533043305900797518/

fig5: https://www.deepfun.com/adventures-hopscotch/

This would also raise social interaction on the streets and make them vibrant, and full of life.

These small suggestions could certainly help implement an aspect of the 8-80 cities concept, making some public spaces more fun for kids to use while they are adopting a healthier lifestyle indeed helps with the 8 side of the concept.  So, let’s try with little steps to make a kids’ city of fun.

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School of Architecture
Planning and Landscape
Newcastle upon Tyne
Tyne and Wear, NE1 7RU

Telephone: 0191 208 6509

Email: nicola.rutherford@ncl.ac.uk