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The need for child-friendly urban design

Many historians believe that children in the medieval period had little childhood and were required to work or go to work early.Nevertheless, as time passed by even during contemporary period, society and culture slowly started focusing on nurturing and educating the child. The result was the advent of the modern education policy comprising of compulsory education, schooling, and specialized academic institutes. The concept of children as a valuable resource for society’s future created the foundation for further intellectual and learning development of these persons. This is a representation of changing perspectives towards children’s worth in an increasingly child-centered society. This shows the importance of a child friendly spatial arrangement.

Today, some parts of the street are off-limits for kids and commercial or some private playgrounds have become substitutes for the roadside play spaces. Studies also show that children from poor localities face four-fold risk compared with children from urban centers. There is an urgent need for addressing the topic on children’s public space and it is a major problem.
Entertainment and recreation facilities, education and culture aspects, safety and health provision are also parts of “the child-friendly city” concept. To this end, cities must create and map children-friendly urban spaces, with emphasis on improving the well-being of these children. Children’s quality of life is greatly influenced by city government and planners policies and measures.

Child-friendly space design case

Child-Friendly Space Design Examples Germany’s Munich Airport is one of the world’s top ten child-friendly airports and an outstanding representation of child-friendly urban spaces. Its outdoor park features a large playground, trampolines, mini steam excavators, and a mini-golf course. Children can also play pilot in the area displaying historic airplanes and rescue helicopters, while using binoculars to observe planes taking off and landing on the runway.

​Parents can travel indoors to give their children access to German children’s television such as “Travelling with Mole” and “All About Taking off.” Child friendly outlets exist in the shopping and recreational areas of the airport with Berlin Airlines Kinderland where professional teachers entertain.

The relationship between children’s participation and urban public spaces

Functional child-friendly public spaces incorporate different components related to these spaces while enabling children into active citizenship. City design should include the creation of safe public places for children such as parks, playgrounds, green lands and sidewalks, where children could interact and socialize with each other in the open air. Such spaces should not be close to roads so that children are safe. Children engage in different leisure activities such as playing in playgrounds, basketball, soccer, cycling, and skating among others. Therefore, the city should have different recreational facilities such as playgrounds, basketball courts, soccer fields, bike lanes, and ice skating r The school architecture must consider how the layout will foster peer interactions among kids in playgrounds and other areas such as libraries. Children need enough playing or resting places where they can engage in socialising and playing while at leisure. Traffic planning needs to be improved so that pedestrian’s and cyclist can walk through safely hence the safety and security of children in public places.

Yunduu Paradise in the Lulu Ecocity in the souther of Chengdu city, china has been a beautiful kid’s park as well as an outdoor natural museum.
It creates unique playing zones for kids using a whole variety of materials, colors, sound, texture, and shapes. Such innovative designs generate different feelings, actions and emotions in children thus creating new playing experience.The designer altered an initially simple walking path on the site to create an “iceberg pathway”, fitted with electronics for acoustic data collection. This soft dripping sound will keep reverberating as an echo in the canyon whenever children go past. Experiences from these parks provide a child friendly and first class child-reaching contact with nature.

However, in summary child-friendly urban design is critical element of city planning. It nourishes their social being as well associety at large.Following the course content and case examples, child-friendly city design should focus on the following principles: locating sites in pedestrian-friendly streets away from vehicular traffic to ensure children’s safety, developing walking and cycling networks to allow children to engage in safe recreational and social activities, designing engaging public spaces, such as the glacier corridor mentioned in the case, and providing diverse child-friendly housing options, including housing with outdoor gardens or structures that allow parents to supervise their children’s play. The necessity and importance of designing child-friendly cities are evident.

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

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