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Children and the Spaces They Need

This report by David Drake is the outcome of a short period of research commissioned by Public Art South West. The objectives of the research brief were to:

  • review previous and current literature/research articles/activities relating to the psychology of space and how children and young people relate to it
  • detail findings to date and key issues in terms of public art policy and practice

Very little specific literature exists on 'children and the spaces they need'. Whereas a substantial body of literature has been published advocating more and better quality play space provision for children and young people, much of this literature focuses on children's rights and their entitlement to provision, rather than looking at children and young peoples' experience of the built and natural environment, and how this impacts on their attitudes, patterns of behaviour and development.

The research has necessarily taken an inter-disciplinary approach drawing on selected publications, articles and reports across several areas of enquiry ñ principally child development and learning, architecture, planning and urban design, environmental psychology, development studies, the play and youth movement, health and the environment. The literature review summarises some common themes and issues that have emerged, and outlines the differing ideological perspectives at work.

As well as setting out some of the key work to date, the report seeks to identify gaps in thinking and debate, and areas of policy and practice that would benefit from further investigation. The reason for doing this is self-evident; public spaces that fail to accommodate the needs of children and young people are by definition poorly designed spaces. And learning more about the way that children and young people interact with public spaces will help to identify urban and rural design, planning and build processes that are more inclusive and sustainable.

Follow this link to download the research report as a Rich Text Format document: 50KB

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