What makes a city child-friendly?


Which cities are child-friendly? Which ones aren’t? And why?


How can architects, urban planners, designers, but also parents, teachers, and kids themselves contribute to cities that are more child-friendly?

 

In my view child-friendly cities really are people-friendly cities. Child-friendly planning really means people-friendly planning. In many ways, children can serve as a sort of indicator for good planning – if a child can navigate the city, then so can pretty much anyone else. If a child can grow up healthily and happily, then everyone else has a good chance of living a good life, too. As Enrique Penalosa, the former mayor of Bogota, Colombia, has said: "If we can build a successful city for children we will have a successful city for all people." So, if I am interested so generally in simply ‘good planning’, why this focus on kids?

 

  • Children represent our future. As the world’s urban population grows, more and more kids grow up in an urban setting. If we put them at the center of our efforts, we will end up with better places.
  • As more children grow up in urban settings, I believe they should learn about cities, neighborhoods, and urban planning from a young age on. They should have the opportunities to get involved and make their voices heard and their opinions count. ‘Design education’ therefore is a particular interest of mine.
  • When I first started researching this topic I was surprised at how little information was available. Some networks exist and several great projects are out there, but in general I see a lack of exchange of ideas in this realm. I’d like to contribute to closing this gap. I’m also intrigued by the fact that some of the most innovative ideas for child-friendly cities are coming out of developing countries. By highlighting such projects, I’d like to show that planning with kids in mind isn’t a luxury that only rich cities can afford.
  • In my mind, urban planning does not need to be a complicated matter. If done well, it can be ‘childs play’. In fact, how ‘play’ factors into urban social interactions (of both children and adults!) is another special interest of mine. I’m also intrigued by the idea of evaluating (and hopefully increasing!) ‘happiness’. So, let’s de-mystify planning a bit, and - let’s play!

 

About me 

 

I am an urban planner and just recently moved to Brooklyn after living in Berlin, Germany, for the past three years. I love to read, write, and travel. Child friendly cities are a topic I am interested in from multiple perpectives: as a life-long resident of cities, as a professional urban planner, researcher, and writer, as a mother of two kids (currently aged 6 and 8), and finally as a former child myself.

With this website I aim to collect and disseminate information, to share innovative ideas and to contribute a little bit to making our cities more child friendly!

 

Christina Delius

 

Contact: e.c.delius@gmail.com