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The city as an urban playground


O'Byrne, Katherine and Norrie, Helen, The city as an urban playground, "UrbanAgiNation": Proceedings of the 6th International Urban Design Conference 2013, 9-11 September 2013, Sydney, Australia, pp. 143-153. ISBN 9781922232076 (2013) [Refereed Conference Paper]

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Australian cities lack spaces that are suitable for children, and this affects the potential to provide inclusive environments for people of all ages. Locations that welcome children are by default also places for mothers, fathers, grandparents, and other children – and these spaces also extend to the widest sectors of the community. Developing child-friendly spaces will contribute to the future growth of cities as inclusive and cohesive environments.

While many urban strategies promoting children in the city focus on providing playgrounds and recreational facilities, this study considers the design of the city as an urban playground. It examines how understanding children’s play can inform the design of play space, acknowledging that this process is not limited to the provision of amenity alone - it is a matter of grasping the cognitive, emotional and imaginativedimension to being young. The study examines the different types of play – active, social and imaginative – in order to understand how the built environment can create ‘embodied spaces’ that lead to the haptic engagement of children.

This is not merely an issue of where to put the swing set! This study examines the characteristics of flexible play spaces that can be used for a diverse range of activities, and presents sets of criteria to evaluate play environments that can also be used as strategies for planning and design. This leads to a series of precedents that provide real life examples of where this criterion has been implemented. Speculations are then made on how councils, planners and designers can come ‘playworkers’, agents that proactively facilitate the design of urban space to promote the active engagement of children in the city, providing flexible play spaces that can be used by people of all ages.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Conference Paper
Keywords:imaginative play, inclusive and cohesive environments, children, act of play
Research Division:Built Environment and Design
Research Group:Architecture
Research Field:Architecture not elsewhere classified
Objective Division:Construction
Objective Group:Construction design
Objective Field:Construction design not elsewhere classified
UTAS Author:O'Byrne, Katherine (Miss Katherine O'Byrne)
UTAS Author:Norrie, Helen (Dr Helen Norrie)
ID Code:89897
Year Published:2013
Deposited By:Architecture
Deposited On:2014-03-18
Last Modified:2017-11-13
Downloads:32 View Download Statistics

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