How Kid-Friendly Urban Design Makes Cities Better For All

Promoting urban planning projects often relies on an inspiring narrative: what are we as a community trying to accomplish, and how do we want our neighborhoods to evolve? Few stories are as universal as building a better future for our children. But in urban design, it’s too often a tale untold.

A new research report focused on child-first urban planning, Cities Alive: Designing for Urban Childhoods, argues that designing for children can be the anchor and central theme animating a larger progressive urban agenda. Written by the international engineering, planning, and consulting firm Arup, the report offers numerous case studies, sobering statistics—such as the fact that 1 billion children live in urban settings right now—and visions for tackling what they see as the main hurdles to more youth-friendly metropolises: traffic and pollution, high-rise living and sprawl, crime, isolation and intolerance, and unequal, inadequate access to the city’s benefits.

How kid-friendly urban design makes cities better for all
Image: article supplied

Most importantly, it suggests a child-friendly lens can help leaders, planners, and designers envision a better city for everyone, one that offers a wealth of social benefits (society gains $8 in benefits for every $1 spent on early play-based education, according to a University College London study).

“Perhaps uniquely, a child‐friendly approach has the potential to unite a range of progressive agendas—including health and wellbeing, sustainability, resilience and safety—and to act as a catalyst for urban innovation,” the report notes.

Many sweeping, and optimistic, modern movements to change metro design focused on children. From the Garden City movement to the post-war suburban boom, updated living environments have often been sold with a promise of healthier living environments for our kids.

But today, urban environmental and health issues are increasingly on the rise, a crises when experts believe that by 2030, 60 percent of all city dwellers will be under the age of 18. The World Health Organization estimates that the number of overweight children globally will skyrocket to 70 million by 2025, from 41 million in 2016, and rates of childhood mental health problems, triggered by the stress of urban life, is also on the rise.

To reverse these trends, Cities Alive proposes a combination of parks, play, equitable planning, and making nature more prevalent. Cars, specifically the amount of real estate given over to roads and vehicles, presents a big problem. This infrastructure often form borders between children and freer access to playspaces, and limits other mobility options.

This was originally published by Curbed.

Click here to read the entire article.


Preserving Urban Watercourses: An Affordable and Ecological Design Approach to Manage Urban Flash Floods

The 10th International Urban Design Conference will be held at Surfers Paradise Marriott Resort & Spa, Gold Coast, Queensland from Monday 13 – Tuesday 14 November 2017.

Ms Rumana Asad, PhD Student at the University of Newcastle will be at this year’s Conference, discussing “Preserving urban watercourses: an affordable and ecological design approach to manage urban flash floods”.

Rumana Asad

The growing awareness of ecosystem-based adaptation (EbA) confirms its acceptability due to environment friendly and locally preferred approaches. In the age of climate change, EbA entails adaptation strategies and processes that are grounded in the sustainable use of natural resources and ecosystem services often managed by local people and technology. Despite its potential the applications of EbA remain still limited, particularly in the realm of urban design and planning.

In favoring its applications EbA, recent literature attempts establish theoretical connections between ecological design and EbA while dispiriting hard engineering solutions, which seem to be expensive and have negative impacts on ecosystems. Thus for developing cities the use of EbA is particularly important and effective. The theoretical framework of this paper is grounded  on the connections thereby testing it through a case in developing cities. Such a city Khulna has been increasingly affected by flash floods over last decade due to heavy rain every year.

The study investigates the potential of local ecosystem and strategies of ecological design as well as landscape urbanism to reduce these impacts. Since multidisciplinary approaches “participatory and culturally appropriate” are widely recommended, this study employs interviews with local people and experts to identify urban design challenges and to appreciate ecological design integrated with EbA so as to enhance the resilience of urban infrastructure.

This study finds that Khulna’s planning policies focus more on physical planning offering piece-meal based and problem-based solutions only while disregarding incorporating the potentials of EbA.
Additionally, new infrastructure, which is often failed linking to urban watercourses and wetlands and thus increase the city’s imperviousness and surface runoff, thereby posing Khulna more vulnerable to flash flood.

Accordingly, this paper advocates for an interdisciplinary ecological design approach to bring nature back while preserving watercourses so as to increase the resilience of urban infrastructure.

The 2017 International Urban Design Conference is an opportunity for design professionals to exchange ideas and experiences, to be creative and visionary and to contribute to redesigning our urban futures.

Find out more here.

Urban Megatrends and Green Cities in 2050

Secure your seat for the 10th International Urban Design Conference, held in Surfers Paradise Marriott Resort & Spa this November.

Mr David Cowan, Urban Renewal & Strategic Planning Leader for Conrad Gargett will be joining us this year to discuss “Urban megatrends and green cities in 2050”.

By 2050, cities will be home to 70% of the world’s population and the effects of climate change and resource scarcity will become very real. As the forces of globalisation and the need for sustainability converge in our urban communities the role of urban design will become more pronounced.

David Cowan

Bold aspirations of the past will confront a future of low economic growth, deteriorating climate and increased global migration. Meanwhile, rapid advancements in mobile, renewable and transport technologies will offer new opportunities for cities to harness.

As technology and sustainability merge with our daily lives, our homes and our workplaces, the design of buildings will evolve accordingly. Today’s green buildings will become the fax machines of tomorrow, as market forces drive more sustainable and advanced architecture. With population growth increasing the pressure on transport and open spaces, our public realm will need to perform better as well, providing for the movement and recreation of more people and a greater resilience from extreme weather.

By 2050, prestige green buildings and vehicles will be commonplace; however the performance of the public realm, public transport and more affordable buildings seems less certain. How can urban designers, planners and architects help deliver sustainable urbanism for all? And what are the learnings from pre-war cities that evolved before the arrival of motor cars and cheap energy?

The 2017 International Urban Design Conference is an opportunity for design professionals to exchange ideas and experiences, to be creative and visionary and to contribute to redesigning our urban futures.

Find out more here.

How Urban Environments Are Benefitting From Green Roofs

Lack of ground space in urban living environments is one of the prime reasons for the popularity of green roofs. The increasing adoption of the green roof concept is slowly but surely changing urban landscapes even as more people realise the various benefits of incorporating green roofs in their homes and roof

Of course, a green roof requires a lot of care and maintenance; therefore, those on a budget or short on time can consider an artificial garden from Evergreen Walls.

Here are some of the benefits of green roofs:

Better air quality

It’s a proven fact that green roofs improve the air quality in the immediate area. Plants have the capability to trap pollutants and atmospheric deposition in the air. Plants also filter out noxious gases to make the air safer to breathe. Green roofs additionally, help with controlling the indoor temperature.

Green roofs are particularly recommended for power plants, which are known to release a lot of pollutants into the air.

Reduced stormwater runoff

Stormwater runoff from the roof, unless harvested, will only result in wastage. However, growing the right varieties of plants on the roof can help with better stormwater management. A green roof will store the water and return it to the environment through evaporation and transpiration. Some plants have the capacity to retain up to 90% of rainwater. Incorporate green wall plants along the perimeter of the building to capture the remaining amounts of water runoff that may occur during a particularly heavy storm.

This article was originally published by Architecture and Design.

Click here to read the entire article.

Early Bird Registration Closing Soon!

You are invited to The 8th International Urban Design Conference, held at the Sofitel Brisbane from Monday 16 November to Wednesday 18 November 2015.

Early Bird registration for the Conference will close Friday 2 October so make sure you have registered and paid by close of business 2 October 2015.

In 2014, this event sold out so you are encouraged to register at your earliest convenience to secure your seat.

This years’ theme titled Empowering Change: Transformative Innovations and Projects will focus on inspirational changes in urban environments.  To view the conference program click here.

This years’ Conference streams to include:

  • Building inclusive multicultural cities
  • Eco cities
  • Health & urban design
  • Higher density urbanism
  • Spatial / temporal changes in Chinese cities
  • Rapid urban development in South East Asia, China & India
  • Balancing the quick and slow formation of cities
  • Using technology to change how cities work
  • How will big data change the future of cities?
  • Urban Design Practice

To secure your discounted delegate rate before early bird registration closes, please visit the conference website here.

If you have any questions about the event, please do not hesitate to contact the Conference Secretariat on +61 (07) 5502 2068 or email