Child friendly urbanism : successful examples, best practices & resources, and strategies for success

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2014

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Abstract

In the past fifty years, urban children have lost their freedom to roam, to explore, and to make meaning of the world around them. Kids need free time, free play, and access to nature if they are to develop into healthy, environmentally-engaged adults. Environmental education, ecoliteracy, and time spent outdoors in free play, can help to re-engage children with the world around them, and to build the foundation of positive environmental attitudes that they will take into adulthood. This study collects resources and strategies in the hope of inspiring urban designers to prioritize the making of child friendly urban places. Addressing sustainability through the prioritization of “future generations” – starting with today’s children – this study offers examples, resources, and best practice, to posit strategies for child friendly urban design. Strategies and resources for restoring lost habitats through contemporary initiatives, including Nature Play and Learning areas, schoolyards reimagined as community playgrounds, and teaching gardens are outlined. Successful examples from three exemplary cities (Amsterdam, Copenhagen, and Stockholm) are documented at three scales of intervention (ecodistricts, housing, and play places), in order to identify additional 21st century strategies for child friendly city-making. These strategies are tested in East Boston, where four “acupuncture” sites, identified through careful analysis, are updated with elements of “Nature Play,” chosen according to a site conditions matrix.

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