Lets fo­cus on mak­ing our cities live­able

The Irish Times Magazine - - WE LOVE... - Marisa Denker is a co- founder of A Play­ful City ( aplay­ful­city. com)

We need to think about how live­able our cities are. More peo­ple than ever be­fore are liv­ing in cities and this num­ber is set to in­crease to 70 per cent of the world’s pop­u­la­tion by 2050.

With such an in­crease in pop­u­la­tion size we should be look­ing to­wards the ur­ban en­vi­ron­ment as a space, which at its heart, is cre­ated for every­body and not just for a frac­tion of peo­ple who live within it.

If we look at Ire­land, 22 per cent of our pop­u­la­tion are un­der the age of 18, yet lit­tle think­ing goes i nto mak­ing the ur­ban sphere more con­ducive to chil­dren and teenagers’ needs.

For such a pop­u­la­tion our cities should be cru­cibles of ex­plo­ration, safe spa­ces that al­low chil­dren and young peo­ple to un­der­stand the world around them.

More of­ten than not, chil­dren are dispersed to tra­di­tional des­ig­nated “play” en­vi­ron­ments, be­hind fences, in the cor­ners of parks.

The i ncrease i n play­grounds is com­mend­able, but in ef­fect th­ese are desti­na­tion spa­ces which de­sign chil­dren ( and their fam­i­lies) out of the f abric of t heir ci t y – whilst teenagers are rarely con­sid­ered at all. Young peo­ple, by de­fault, are not be­ing made wel­come in our cities.

Chil­dren and young peo­ple are an “in­di­ca­tor species” for cities, which means the more we see this por­tion of so­ci­ety health­ier and hap­pier within our en­vi­ron­ment the more we know a city is do­ing well. This gives us the op­por­tu­nity to look at space within a city in a dif­fer­ent light.

Many spa­ces around our cities lie un­used and unloved – laneways, va­cant lots, street cor­ners.

Work­ing with and for com­mu­ni­ties, th­ese spa­ces can be reimag­ined as play­ful in­ter­gen­er­a­tional spa­ces that cater for all.

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