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Participation of Children in Spatial Development: Case Study: Stockholm Metropolitan Area
KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Urban Planning and Environment, Urban and Regional Studies.
2012 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

Participation of children in urban and regional planning processes? The idea sounds like a utopia to a lot of planners. ‘Too young’, ‘not enough knowledge or skills to understand the complexity of planning’, are typical reactions. Twenty years ago the United Nation Convention on the Right of the Child came into force. It assures children the right to express their views freely in all matters affecting them. The convention was an impulse for the first projects with children’s participation in urban planning, for instance in neighborhood planning, playground development, or school root planning. Unique methods have been developed since then and committed planners and pedagogues are trying to spread the idea and the awareness level of the concept of children´s participation in spatial development.

The shaping of the participation conditions and methods determines which stakeholders will be able to take part or feel addressed. Which groups of society are included or excluded in a participation process through the choice of instruments and methods? Citizens that are able to express their needs are more likely to have their requirements included. On the other hand, children belong to a group that needs to be activated. Methods must fit the specific group dealt with. Traditional methods of participation within planning, such as giving the public time to examine the detailed plan or bigger discussion meetings, are not child friendly. That leads to an exclusion of children so that their opinion and requests are not integrated in the planning process. But it is only possible through the participation of children to get to know their needs on and views about space. Spatial planners have the possibility to understand the divergent cognitions on space of the different age groups. What makes a certain place interesting, scary or dangerous for children? The conditions of a city have a direct influence on the way that children grow up. Considering children’s play from a historical context demonstrates the difference. Children used to play outside on the street everywhere in the city. Around the 1960s there was a shift to the "inside"; nowadays, apartment or houses or places created especially for children, such as spare time activity centers, playgrounds or sport facilities, are the most important places for children for the growing up next to school and daycare. The root of these changes goes back to the increase of the automobiles on the street and the separation of housing and working in the new developed housing areas. The street as a place of socialization for children is losing its importance in this context. However, public space is still a place where children spend part of their time every day. Urban planning can directly influence the life of adolescents 4 1. Introduction through planning measurements. Their participation is an essential requirement for the creation of child friendly space.

There are a lot of positive examples of projects or municipalities that involve children in urban planning. However, the participation of children in urban planning is still not routine in most countries and municipalities. This conflicts with a basic democratic understanding and is against the United Nation Convention on the Rights of the Child that was ratified by Sweden in 1990. Sweden and in particular the Stockholm municipality area will be the focus of the case study. It serves as an example in pursuing the question on how participation rights of children are structurally embraced in urban planning.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2012. , 97 p.
SoM EX, 2012-03
Keyword [en]
citizien participation
National Category
Social Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-90727OAI: diva2:506194
Subject / course
Regional Planning
Educational program
Degree of Master - Sustainable Urban Planning and Design
2012-02-02, KTH, Stockholm, 10:00 (English)
Social and Behavioural Science, Law
Available from: 2012-03-05 Created: 2012-02-28 Last updated: 2012-03-05Bibliographically approved

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