The Child in the City

In modern society the design of spaces for play remains lost within a realm of architecture and art, sociology and anthropology, urban design and landscape design. The practice itself of ‘designing for play’ holds a rich, yet often forgotten history of public-place design experimentation. Through the late 20th century, with the rising implementation of motorways, playgrounds became a static fixture of masterplanning concepts; a tick box exercise for housing schemes. Fenced off, scattered with mass produced plastic furnitures, and a ground surface covering of bouncy rubber EPDM, playgrounds have acquired a reputation as an unimaginative space, segregated off to the public realm. The severe lack of integration of play spaces and play furniture’s within the streets and public realm has impacted the child and their own integration into the urban environ-ment greatly. I believe that through this the child is neglected by the city, and therefore lacks the autonomy, empowerment, ownership active citizens should have.

According to a recent population study in 2019, “nearly four out of ten Glaswegian children live in the 10% most deprived areas of Scotland.” By understanding the population sizes, built environment conditions and local facilities within these districts of high youth populations, it will become clear that redirecting the design of urban spaces to put a greater focus on the child as the user may aid the recovery and regeneration of these neighbourhoods.

Through research into both community engaged architecture and successful precedents of spaces for children I have identified three key ideas in regards to creating an engaging architecture: Objects, Environ-ments and Networks. Through both a drawing methodology, as a way of analysis, and modelling research into architectural technology specifics these three ideas have been investigated under the key architectural themes of Scale and Thresholds. It is in this architectural thesis ‘The Child in the City’ that I investigate how an architecture, implemented at a range of scales, may create a deeper sense of place and greater level of autonomy for children living within the city.