Salus journal

Healthy Planet. Healthy People.

Cities / Healthy Cities

Healthy City Design 2018

Child-friendly urban planning: lessons from cities in Canada and Europe

By Tim Gill 21 Jan 2019 0

What is child-friendly urban planning? What measures have leading cities in Europe and Canada taken to improve their streets, parks and public spaces for children and young people? What can decision-makers and advocates learn from these cities about how to build their case and improve their urban environments – not just for children but for people of all ages? In tackling these questions, the author will share insights from his 2017–18 Churchill Fellowship travels.

Download the slides for this video presentation


These travels took in Antwerp, Freiburg, Ghent, Oslo, Rotterdam, Vancouver and Calgary. In each city, the author interviewed key decision-makers in municipalities and partner agencies, gathered data and guidance material, visited sites and schemes, and, where possible, engaged directly with groups of children to hear what they had to say.

The author takes as his starting point the definition of child-friendliness first drawn up by Marketta Kyttä (a professor at Aalto University in Helsinki), which formed the basis of the 2017 Arup publication Cities Alive: Designing for Urban Childhoods. This definition – encapsulated in the notion of children’s everyday freedoms – places equal emphasis on what neighbourhoods offer to children and how easy it is for them to get around.

The author will set out the common tools and building blocks deployed by all the cities he visited, and highlight some of the differences between them. He will reveal the varied reasons why different cities have chosen to focus on children’s experiences of urban environments. He will also pull out the lessons for city leaders, planners, public health agencies, and advocates around the world.

Organisations involved