Vanessa Lastrucci, Landscape Architect, Urban Movement
I have been thinking a lot recently about how we can better shape cities, to improve the way in which children can engage with them - creating streets and spaces that are safe and enjoyable.
As with so many urban issues of late, Enrique Peñalosa (Former Mayor of Bogota) has a great quote on this issue which summarises the design approach we could all take. He says that, “children are a kind of indicator species, if we can build a successful city for children, we will have a successful city for everyone.”
This point is of course very acute; we have for some time been aware that we must design for the most vulnerable in society, to ensure the inclusiveness of our cities and make them accessible for all. This thinking arguably has not yet extended to children though - as designing for children is not an accepted norm by any stretch.
This idea gets especially interesting to me, however, when we understand that 26% of today’s global population is under the age of 15, and in fact, when you look at developing regions of the world, where most urban growth is happening, 40% of the population is under 15. (UN Population Prospects 2017).
So, if we are truly to shape places for the most vulnerable in society, should we not better understand what child-friendly cities look like, because children are especially vulnerable to their surroundings, yet they have little choice or influence over them.
We, and society as a whole, are influenced by the places in which we live - the design, systems, amenities, and social value of cities directly affect human behaviour. If we want the next generation to thrive, cities need to nurture them, and deliver the conditions that enable children to develop physically, socially, and societally. To me, these are two key areas to focus on.
MOBILITY - easy access to social and sustainable ways to get about, like walking, cycling, and public transport, are key to child-friendly cities. Parents know that children always need to be places - from doctor’s surgeries to sports practice - so delivering quality active, social, and sustainable travel options supports child development - and establishes healthy practices for later in life.
PLAY - personally I think this is so very important. We must make cities more enjoyable, more fun! Cities are inherently serious places, but human beings need to have fun, and here in lies a serious (excuse the pun) disconnect. We have to extend play out of ‘playgrounds’ and weave it in to everyday life - creating opportunities for informal play on streets and in public spaces, so that children can experience cities, and develop diverse social networks.
Amy Priestley, Urban Designer at Urban Movement
I joined Urban Movement almost a year ago, having previously worked for the London Borough of Waltham Forest on the Council’s 'Enjoy Waltham Forest' / ‘Mini-Holland’ programme. My design and engagement work on the transformation of Francis Road in Leyton was one of the most exciting projects I worked on.
National Walking Month is now upon us, which is a fantastic initiative from Living Streets that highlights the importance of walking - for people, for places, and for society as a whole.
Walking more improves our health, supports the local economy, helps people get to know their neighbours better, and is how you truly experience a place!
Much of our work is to shape places in ways that make everyday walking, cycling, and use of public transport more easy and enjoyable. We also walk lots ourselves: for transport and for fun. John Dales and Christopher Martin, respectively former and current Trustees of Living Streets, will (as previously) each be live-tweeting photos from a Walk to Work, on a day in May. They’ll cover whatever catches their interest: from infrastructure details, to the natural world, to coffee shops.
If you’d like to follow them on their walks this year, feel free to follow them on Twitter - @JohnStreetDales + @ChrisCities - and don’t forget to look out for the #WALKTHISMAY hashtag.
Click here to find out more about how you can get involved with National Walking Month.
12 YEARS \ Shaping Cities around the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals by Christopher Martin
Read Brian's latest article in Transport Xtra here
UM's Brighton North Street work has been 'Highly Commended' at the 2017 Landscape Institute Awards, in the category of 'Adding Value through Landscape', highlighting how the public realm can revitalise local economies, and strengthen communities.
We are delighted to announce that, as part of a team led by Civic Engineers, we have been appointed by Glasgow City Council to help deliver a £1.8 million contract for the design of the transformative city centre ‘Avenues’ project. The project is supported by the £1.13billion Glasgow City Region City Deal, of which £115million is allocated for the Avenues.
This new commission will focus on taking forward our previous work, over a number of years, to identify the streets that will yield the greatest return on investment for the City, and its citizens; to establish the Avenues design concept; and to prove the success of this concept through the Sauchiehall Street Avenue Pilot Project (due to start on site in early 2018). The commission will deliver the first seven Avenues on key city centre streets and spaces, delivering an improved public realm that invites more people to walk, cycle, and spend time in the city.