WHY). These higher goals can only be achieved when the right conditions are created (HOW). For example public spaces should be accessible, attractive, challenging, divers and inviting. The different actions and efforts (WHAT) such as design, programming and ordering equipment are a resultant of these sub goals and not the other way around. In total, I come to 100 measures. Examples of these actions are broad sidewalks, climbing structures, greenery, ground markings, shared spaces and bike racks for kids.
The moral of this story: if we want to realize playable cities we have to consider these three aspects (WHY, HOW, WHAT) continuously and collectively. All things considered, it looks like this (click here to enlarge):
With in the middle the underlying reasons (WHY), in the second circle the factors that determine whether a public space attracts or rejects kids from playing (HOW) and in the outer circle examples of some of the specific actions (WHAT). All together they are the ingredients for making child-friendly cities.
Cities are to often not planned and designed with the human dimension in mind. Let alone with those of children. One of the reasons is that most of the research that has been taken place is dispersed and not absorbed into practical measures. Which makes it not readily accessible either to policy makers or the general public. With this model I hope to fill that gap.
The advantage of this model is that it involves the higher goals and at the same time it is a toolkit for concrete actions. The model is also easy to understand and communicate. That's necessary because within a city a lot of different actors are involved in the amount of time a kid can play in a vibrant, child-friendly environment. Such as architects, city planners, engineers, entrepreneurs, municipal officials, landscape architects, politicians, teachers, traffic experts, urban designers, welfare workers and off course residents (of all ages). They all play a role, varying from strategic level to operational level and everything in between. The model is a tool to organize collaboration, to unite interests, to inform, and to inspire. A tool that stimulates to walk a common path. It is not a definite framework, but a source of inspiration and gives clarity in the broad options and actions which must be taken into account to realize the overall goals.
Golden Circle of Simon Sinek. He studied the success of inspired leaders and influential companies and found that the key to success lies in the way these leaders and organization think, act and communicate. They don't work from the outside in, but from the inside out. They start with the 'Why' (your purpose, passion, belief), then the 'How' (strengths, values) and finish with 'What' (the products, services). They start with the 'Why' because it is the most important message that an organization or individual can communicate. This is what inspires others to action. The 'What' is of course also important, but it doesn't stimulate other people to action and it loses sight of the bigger picture. Successful people and organizations express why they do what they do rather than focusing on what they do. This wisdom also applies for professionals and residents who want to the realize good public spaces.
The model is filled after an extensive desk research of international literature and websites about public spaces (for kids). Using the work of for example, Mikael Colville-Andersen, Jan Gehl, Tim Gill, Jane Jacobs, Kaboom!, Kevin Lynch, Project for Public Spaces (PPS), The Bernard van Leer Foundation (Urban95), The City at Eyelevel, and William H. Whyte. But also using the results from scientific research published in international academic journals such as 'Childeren's Geography' and policy documents from cities. You can find all the sources I used in a separate 'blog post'.
(c) Photo and images by Gerben Helleman