Skip to content
Header banner full

Creating Playful Space for Vertical Living Children in Compact Cities

According to the forecast by United Nations, 60 percent of the global children will reside in urban environment by 2025. Addressing children’s needs in high density areas is not only important for the development of children’s physical and emotional growth, but also retaining families with children to ensure the inclusiveness of compact cities. Child-friendly city can enable children to independently play, use urban space and interact with surroundings in everyday life (Krishnamurthy, 2019). For children living high density dwellings, play without parents’ supervision is particularly critical to develop learning skills and sense of community belonging. However, increasing concerns with heavy traffic and stranger danger are limiting children’s independent play. It leads to decreasing children’s play opportunities and social connections to their neighborhoods. As a result, barriers and perceptions that prevent children from freely exploring outdoor space must be considered in building neighborhoods and cities. Meanwhile, there is lack of play space for children in dense urban areas. Majority of play facilities and spaces are designed as destinations where children have to be transported and accompanied by parents. Children are losing their active mobility (Krysiak, 2018).

To encourage children’s independent play, four elements of physical intervention are proposed in compact environment, including school networks integrated into public realm, playful space in high density communities, safe routes ensuring children’s independency, play networks in urban fabrics. (Krysiak, 2018) On the other hand, most of current guidelines are focusing on creating child friendly streets and open space rather than apartment design. The design of communal space within the apartment complexes pays less attention to the needs of children and family with child. Community interactions are parents mostly required. It can be supported by active ground floor and frontage where people can have diverse social connections with other residents, specifically in broader neighborhood context. Social connections are supposed to be fostered at both complex and neighborhood scale (Whitzman & Mizrachim, 2012).



Krishnamurthy, S. (2019). Reclaiming spaces: Child inclusive urban design. Cities & Health. 3(1-2), 86-98.

Krysiak, N. (2018). Where do the Children Play? Designing Child Friendly Compact Cities. Cities for Play.

Whitzman, C. & Mizrachim, D. (2012). Creating child-friendly high-rise environments: Beyond wastelands and glasshouses. Urban Policy and Research. 30(3). 233-49.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


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

Telephone: 0191 208 6509