How will the children play? A participatory design response to Auckland’s intensification & green space provision

  • YEAR
    Wake, Susan J.
    Zhan, Wenjin
    2019 Conference Papers
    Conference Papers
    Urban design


This paper discusses the process followed and the design outcomes from applying data gathered from a performance art-based urban design project (‘Lookout’) shared between children and adults, to the design of a small public park in suburban Auckland. The rationale for the project is that while children have both acknowledged legal rights & developmental capability to participate in decisions about their environment, they are most often left out, so there is a need for improved methods. Meanwhile, Auckland city is currently undergoing widespread densification due to housing demand and this is leading to a decrease in private green space (the ‘kiwi backyard’) for children’s unstructured play and exploration. Set against this is diminishing children’s independent mobility (IM) as fearful parents/caregivers act as gatekeepers in children’s lives. As a result, areas close to home for play and greater passive surveillance by the community are increasingly important factors within urban design. The research found that even though the ‘Lookout’ production was broadly-focused and CBDlocated, it generated information that was valuable and relevant for the park design, especially since it enabled the voice of both children and adults to be captured. Although the success of ‘Lookout’ and the richness of the findings we obtained are largely attributable to its writer, Andy Field, we propose the process warrants further research as a possible method of participation for children in design due to its innovative & engaging approach that could double as a learning tool. Children’s concern for their city and their vision for its future as a more equitable and inclusive place was a strong design driver and a poignant prompt that we need to be frequently reminded of. Adults’ nostalgia-leaning interest was also a cue of the importance of making design connections to the past.

Keywords: Children, participation, performance art, urban design


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