A Child-Centric Urban Design Initiative
Urban areas that are child-friendly are crucial to building inclusive and healthy cities.
It’s not only about building playgrounds and other play areas for kids; the design should also incorporate components that encourage neighbourhood engagement, pedestrian safety, and a secure environment for kids to play and learn in.
Around 1.35 million deaths are caused by traffic each year, and the bulk of those deaths involves young individuals between the ages of 5 and 29 (Baldwin, 2022). This is the outcome of an uncertain design that was created without consideration for children and teenagers.
A city with a child-friendly design will be welcoming to people of all ages. Designing for children is better for everyone (Arup, 2023). Here are some key considerations that might be taken into account while designing a child-friendly city.
Attractive play areas for learning:
It is essential to think about a street design that encourages learning and play among children. The first three years of life will lay a solid basis for a child’s cognitive skill development. Hence designing tangible aspects like textures, colourful materials, lighting, interactive places, and sensory play components might result in a child-oriented street design (National Association of City Transportation Officials, 2022).
Track from home to school:
This route needs to be carefully planned to take into account all of the aforementioned factors. Installing signs and clear maps along the “children’s walking route” is important, especially between the school and the child’s home.
Designing with nature in mind:
Including play areas for children and green infrastructure has led to greater brain development in young children. It also serves as a buffer by erecting walls between different pollutants and play areas for kids.
Public Art and cultural spaces:
To inspire creativity in young people living in cities while also encouraging an appreciation for aesthetics and culture, integrating public art and cultural spaces within these environments is an excellent option. Outdoor murals depicting local histories or artworks celebrating diversity can provide opportunities for learning while enhancing the visual appeal of neighborhoods. Sculptures or other interactive installations offer unique experiences that encourage engagement with one’s surroundings.
The mobility license provided to children and young people is affected by the distance between the home, school, transportation, and play and social venues. Younger children frequently perceive higher distances as a mobility hindrance than older children. Greater mobility freedom is made possible by the proximity of various uses and locations, supporting the concept of a public realm that is both mixed-use and multifunctional. (Mayor of London, 2023)
There’s no question that urban areas have a significant responsibility when it comes to ensuring pedestrian safety. To accomplish this goal effectively requires taking necessary steps such as implementing traffic calming measures and creating clearly marked crosswalks near schools or other high-traffic locations. Furthermore, limiting vehicle speeds is imperative where possible while investing in separate pedestrian paths such as sidewalks or dedicated roads can make a considerable difference.
Prioritizing policies for children:
Urban planners should frame policies that take into account a child-friendly design.
For instance: In an effort to promote livability and quality of life for its citizens London’s urban planning policies demand strict adherence from developers. Any new residential development with over 20 units must allocate a minimum of 10 square meters per child as open space (mayor of London, 2023). The calculation considers the estimated number of children who will call this development home.
Overall, it’s crucial that urban design for children should be all-embracing, flexible, and inclusive enough to cater to their changing requisites and interests as they grow.
Arup. (2023). Cities Alive: Designing for urban childhoods. Www.arup.com. https://www.arup.com/perspectives/cities-alive-urban-childhood
Baldwin, E. (2022, August 15). 10 Actions to Improve Streets for Children. Arch Daily. https://www.archdaily.com/945350/10-actions-to-improve-streets-for-children
National Association of City Transportation Officials. (2022). Designing Streets for Kids. Designing Streets for Kids, 4. globaldesigningcities.org.
Mayor of London. (2023). MAKING LONDON CHILD -FRIENDLY. Greater London Authority. https://www.london.gov.uk/sites/default/files/ggbd_making_london_child-friendly.pdf
Figure 1: https://www.archdaily.com/945350/10-actions-to-improve-streets-for-children/5f2dbd33b35765a1970000f0-10-actions-to-improve-streets-for-children-image
Figure 2: https://www.archdaily.com/934599/cities-for-play-how-to-design-stimulating-and-safe-cities-for-children
Figure 3: https://www.pentagonplay.co.uk/projects/eyfs-playground-reginald-primary
Figure 4: https://www.archdaily.com/934599/cities-for-play-how-to-design-stimulating-and-safe-cities-for-children
Figure 5: https://www.archdaily.com/945350/10-actions-to-improve-streets-for-children/5f2dbd33b35765a1970000f0-10-actions-to-improve-streets-for-children-image
Figure 6: MAKING LONDON CHILD -FRIENDLY. Greater London Authority. https://www.london.gov.uk/sites/default/files/ggbd_making_london_child-friendly.pdf