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.

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Realising New Knowledge for Cities From Event Based Legacy – a Gold Coast Case Study

Mr Peter Edwards,  Director, Archipelago & Past President Urban Design Alliance Queensland is a Keynote Speaker at this year’s International Urban Design Conference, discussing “Citymaking games: realising new knowledge for cities from event based legacy – a Gold Coast case study”.

Peter Edwards

Secure your seat today to hear Peter speak!

The base building work for the major legacy of the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth GamesTM – the Commonwealth Games Village – is complete.

There is no doubt that this is an important moment in the history of the Gold Coast. Cities are often made from important moments, events that create step change; leaps forward.  On the Gold Coast, we are leveraging the moment using infrastructure as a catalyst to create a step change for the city. Part of that is a platform for a stronger entry into the new knowledge economy, the Gold Coast Health and Knowledge Precinct.

This citymaking strategy has been in play for some time with its fruits recently realised. Why now? How? And what should we be doing moving forward? How do we win at the game of making cities through seeing, and seizing, the moment.

A discussion on the potential of event based legacy as a catalyst for new knowledge infrastructure demonstrated through the case study of the Gold Coast Health and Knowledge Precinct.

This 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.

Register for the 2017 International Urban Design Conference here.

 

What’s Next for Melbourne: Victorian Planning Authority Urban Renewal Director Emily Mottram Looks at the Big Picture

Emily Mottram practices what she preaches. The city planner is an enthusiastic inner-city dweller. She likes to walk to work and seldom uses her car.

“My son gets excited when he gets into the car because it happens so rarely he thinks it’s a special occasion,” she says, laughingly.

Mottram is the director of urban renewal at the Victorian Planning Authority, the government body that looks after the big-picture planning for the state and she focuses on inner-city projects.

Coincidentally she was one of the pioneers of CBD living and moved into Majorca Building on Flinders Lane in the 1990s.

“Melbourne is such a magical, amazing place to live – it’s so diverse and fantastic.”

She now lives in North Carlton and feels like the city’s parks, gardens and museums are in her backyard.

“It’s a city of hidden gems – all the work around the laneways that the City of Melbourne has done so well in terms of reframing the city is fantastic.”

Working in the VPA offices at the top of Collins Street means that Mottram knows all the best places for coffee. Walking down Flinders Lane, she peers into Cumulus Inc – too busy – then ducks into Tom Thumb cafe for a chat.

Photo: article supplied

The city planner reveals she had a very urban upbringing, growing up in a London terrace house in the 1970s. She remembers idyllic childhood days playing outside in the terrace’s triangular communal garden.

Her dad was an architect who often brought her along to see his work. Later on, the family lived in Oman for eight years when her dad was converting a fort into a museum.

Not surprisingly, Mottram developed an interest in cities and buildings and decided to study social and environmental planning when she moved to Melbourne.

“I was very passionate about environmental issues,” she says.

Her first job was as a social planner for Hobsons Bay City Council, then on the edge of Melbourne, where she oversaw the development of the Seabrook Community Centre.

“The city I came to in the mid ’80s has changed so dramatically,” she says.

She returned to the UK in the early 2000s to provide advice to councils on redeveloping public housing estates.

“When I flew in the last time to Gatwick Airport, I could see out of the window of the plane part of the city that I had a hand in.”

One of the difficult things about working as a planner is that it takes so long before you see your projects completed, she says.

This was originally published by Domain.

Click here to read the entire article.

Hear Emily Mottram speak at the 2017 International Urban Design Conference this November!

Secure your seat now!

Reclaiming the Street: A Decade of Recreating America’s Streets and the ‘Sadik-Khan’ Effect

Be inspired by innovations and projects that are transforming cities this November at the 2017 International Urban Design Conference.

Ms Rebecca Finn, Urban Designer Tract will be discussing “Reclaiming the street: A decade of recreating America’s streets and the ‘sadik-khan’ effect”.

In 2007, in response to decades of car-centric planning, New York City’s Department of Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan led change that completely reimagined the city’s streets and drastically improved conditions for pedestrians and cyclists throughout the city.

Rebecca Finn

The most notable project was in Times Square where large swathes of the street were turned into a pedestrian plaza and blocks of Broadway were closed to traffic. The changes happened quickly and the materials were inexpensive. In a stroke of brilliance, New York City Department of Transportation referred to this one and the many other similar projects as ‘pilot projects’.

If they proved not to work they could be removed and the street could easily be returned to its former state. But, for the most part the changes did work. Times Square and other initiatives, including the miles of new dedicated bike lanes have now been turned into permanent features and the public realm in New York City has been transformed.

What Janette Sadik-Khan and her team did in New York City was admirable, but the nation-wide phenomenon that followed is nothing short of incredible. Similar projects popped up all around the country. The mood was euphoric in transportation and design circles. The concept of streets as places solely for the automobile was finally being seriously challenged. While the idea of trying to improve streets wasn’t new, the speed of delivery was. The ‘pop-up’, ‘temporary’, ‘pilot’ culture had arrived. A decade on, this culture has made a huge impact on city streets both around the country and around the world.

In particular, this presentation examines how streets have been reimagined in Los Angeles as a result of this movement. Los Angeles has long been the poster child for the car-centric city, but this image has been seriously challenged over the last decade. Three projects that show this change will be showcased: CicLAvia (LA’s car-free streets program), MyFigueroa (Figueroa Street Streetscape Project) and Sunset Triangle Plaza.

This 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.

Register for the 2017 International Urban Design Conference here.

The Missing Centre, Or (To Put It Another Way), What’s Missing From Our Centres?

Clear your calendar this November for the 10th Urban Design Conference! 

Ms Amy Degenhart, Architect and Director at degenhartSHEDD Architecture and Urban Design joins us to discuss “The missing centre, or (to put it another way), what’s missing from our centres?”.

There is much talk about “The Missing Middle” in relation to the densification of our suburbs, but the conversation about adding density to our urban centres in a manner that encourages diversity, reinforces home ownership, embraces the street, enhances safety and respects community legacy is also largely missing from our current city-building tool kit.

Amy Degenhart

Adopted by many urban dwellers, high rise living is not loved by all, but often serves to create a vacuum in our city centres, challenging housing diversity by alienating first home buyers, owner occupiers, legacy residents and some cultural demographics. Further, both mid and high rise structures also neglect a key affordable domestic construction resources readily available on the Gold Coast…the “nail bag builder”.

Starting life as an exemplar of “Small Lot Housing”, ENVI Micro Urban Village, a 10-micro-lot urban-infill subdivision, was the vision of a partnership between an architect and a planner, inspired by their joint love-or envy-of the terrace housing form found in celebrated cities like Rome, New York, Melbourne, London and Vietnam.

The ENVI story began in 2014, and, as of August 2017, will achieve a milestone through the settlement of its unique freehold urban-infill lots, averaging 60m2 in size and 3.6m in width. As each lot is front-loaded, making the most of every resource, it is not just land area and frontage that denotes the innovation of this project, but it is also the three lots that have no provision for on-site car parking, being instead supported-by, and supportive-of, the new Gold Coast light rail public transport system.

As ENVI houses are now under construction, from the Pico Pod that sits on just 38m2 of land, to the Village Home, designed to rival the suburban dream, this uniquely Gold Coast densification, renewal and innovation story is ripe for the telling.

Be inspired by innovations and projects that are transforming cities. This 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.

Register for the 2017 International Urban Design Conference here.