Child Friendly Urban Design
Background of Child Friendly Urban Design
In recent decades, we have experienced the rapid growth of cities. But low-quality urban public spaces deprive children of the opportunity to enjoy themselves in the city. In 1996, the United Nations Children’s Fund officially launched “Children’s Friendly Cities Initiative” (CFCI). There are many countries participating globally. At the same time, it has sparked attention towards the well-being of children.
Figure 1: Child Friendly Cities initiatives around the world
How to Build a Child Friendly City?
Safety is the basic guarantee for children in urban life. It mainly refers to two aspects: traffic safety and activity space safety. Traffic safety mainly includes aspects. For example, road system planning, road sections, parking facilities and traffic control. And the safety of activity space mainly includes supporting facilities, street organization, view of the activity space and pavings.
Figure 2: Walking bus in London
Accessibility refers to a series of children’s travel activities. It includes playing, going to school, shopping, making friends, etc. In designated areas, it is best to ensure that there are no cars traveling with each other. Additionally, buses are provided to ensure long-distance transportation, so that children can safely and conveniently reach every area they want to go.
In fact, interesting games and comfortable rest are the basic guarantees for the construction of a child friendly city. What’s more, high quality recreational spaces can ensure children’s happy play and creativity. In urban design, the scale of urban streets, entertainment venues, amusement facilities, rest facilities and other places that meet children’s needs should be designed from the perspective of children.
Figure 3: Learning landscapes in Denver, USA
At this instant, CFCI requires full protection of children’s right to participate in urban designs. The participation of children in urban construction mainly includes ensuring that their suggestions are truly accepted by the government. In a word, it’s important to listen to their needs. Children can play a supervisory role in urban operation. They can also provide opinions on the problems that exist in urban construction.
Interesting and Successful Cases
Playful public space: Adventure Amusement Park in London
Since 1940, the UK has been building adventure parks in communities and local areas. According to data, adventure parks are more attractive. As a representative of adventure amusement parks, Princess of Wales Memorial Playground in London provides children with a variety of open game options. In addition, its most prominent feature is a full-size wooden pirate boat, which serves as a climbing area for children. The most interesting thing is that it’s surrounded by sand for them to play in.
Figure 4: Princess of Wales Memorial Playground in London
Adventure amusement parks focus on cultivating children’s imagination and sense of adventure. What’s more, they encourage them to challenge their physical and mental abilities. There is a notice posted outside the Princess Diana Memorial Amusement Park in Wales, stating, “This park will intentionally provide some risks, allowing children to cultivate risk awareness in a controlled gaming environment, rather than enduring similar risks in an uncontrolled and ruleless world.”
Liveable Street: Design of Sham Shui Po Child Friendly Street in Hong Kong
Child friendly streets focus on the design of four types of spaces: amusement parks, street green spaces, alleys and rooftop gardens. As can be seen, they provide children with multifunctional social and play spaces. Actually, they mainly increase the number of public facilities.
Figure 5: Types of Sham Shui Po Child Friendly Street in Hong Kong
The back alley chosen for the project is near to a coffee shop. And cleaners often come here to clean up. There are many cardboard boxes and abandoned shelves in the alleys, which makes the space unsafe and uninteresting.
Therefore, it is necessary to consider how to use cardboard boxes and shelves. After school, cleaners can utilize these boxes to invite neighbors, passersby and children to create games together. At the same time, the mother of the child can confidently participate in other activities at the coffee shop. On this occasion, the neighbors will take care of their child nearby.
Figure 6: Designs of Sham Shui Po Child Friendly Street in Hong Kong