Creating Child-Friendly Living Environments in Central Cities: Vertical Living Kids

  • Carolyn WhitzmanEmail author
Reference work entry
Part of the Geographies of Children and Young People book series (GCYP, volume 12)


Since the origins of Rome, Beijing, and Edo (Tokyo) 2,000 years ago, children have grown up in high-density, mixed-use central cities. However, during the nineteenth century period of rapid industrialization and urbanization in Europe and North America, growing up downtown became seen as morally and physically unhealthy and unsafe. Recently, the possibilities of child-friendly central city living have been rediscovered. This chapter reviews recent literature on the risks and possible rewards of growing up downtown, then discusses design approaches to maximize benefit and minimize harms at the unit, building, and precinct level. The chapter concludes by giving examples of child-friendly city planning by and with children, from Toronto, Vancouver, Singapore, and London.


Child-friendly cities Central cities Housing Play spaces 


  1. Beunderman, J., Hannon, C., & Bradwell, P. (2007). Seen and heard: Reclaiming the public realm with children and young people. London: Demos/Play England.Google Scholar
  2. Churchman, A. (1999). Disentangling the concept of density. Journal of Planning Literature, 13(4), 389–411.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. City of Greater Bendigo. (2009). Play space strategy 2009–2014. Bendigo, Australia: City of Greater Bendigo.Google Scholar
  4. City of New York. (2010). Active design guidelines: Promoting physical activity and health in design.Google Scholar
  5. Centre for Active Design. (2010) Active design guidelines: promoting physical activity and health in design. New York: Centre for Active Design.Google Scholar
  6. City of Portland. (2007). Principles of child friendly housing. Portland: City of Portland.Google Scholar
  7. City of Seattle. (2006). FUN: Family-friendly urban neighbourhoods! Places and spaces for families and children in Seattle’s Center City – A workbook for city staff. Seattle: City of Seatlle.Google Scholar
  8. City of Vancouver. (1992). High-density housing for families with children guidelines. Vancouver: City of Vancouver.Google Scholar
  9. Easthope, H., & Judd, S. (2010). Living well in greater density. Sydney: City Futures Research Centre, University of New South Wales.Google Scholar
  10. Frumkin, H., Frank, L., & Jackson, R. (Eds.). (2004). Urban sprawl and public health: Designing, planning and building for healthy communities. Washington, DC: Island Press.Google Scholar
  11. Gifford, R. (2007). The consequences of living in high-rise buildings- invited review paper. Architectural Science Review, 50(1), 2–17.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Giles-Corti, B., Ryan, K., & Foster, S. (2012). Increasing density in Australia: Maximising the health benefits and minimising harm – evidence review. Melbourne: National Heart Foundation of Australia.Google Scholar
  13. Ginsberg, Y., & Churchman, A. (1985). The pattern and meaning of neighbor relations in high-rise housing in Israel. Human Ecology, 13(4), 467–484.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Gordon, D. (2001). Directions for new urban neighbourhoods: Learning from St. Lawrence, Canadian Institute of Planners Case Study Series. Calgary: Centre for Environmental Design, Research and Outreach, University of Calgary.Google Scholar
  15. Greater London Authority. (2008). Supplementary planning guidance: Providing for children and young people’s play and informal recreation. London: Greater London Authority.Google Scholar
  16. Hart, R. (2002). Containing children: Some lessons on planning for play from New York City. Environment and Urbanization, 14(2), 135–148.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Hinshaw, M. (2007). True urbanism: Living in and near the center. Chicago: American Planning Association.Google Scholar
  18. Hofer, N. (Ed.). (2008). Compilation report of the process, findings, and recommendations from the False Creek North post-occupancy evaluation. Vancouver: School of Community and Regional Planning, University of British Columbia.Google Scholar
  19. Hulchanski, D. (1990). Planning new urban neighbourhoods: Lessons from St. Lawrence (University of British Columbia Planning Papers). Vancouver: School of Community and Regional Planning, University of British Columbia.Google Scholar
  20. Jamieson, N., & Jacobs, J. (1996). The making of marginalisation: High rise living and social polarisation. In K. Gibson, M. Huxley, & J. Cameron (Eds.), Restructuring difference: Social polarisation and the city (pp. 75–91). Melbourne: Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute.Google Scholar
  21. Kapasi, H. (2006). Neighbourhood play and community action. York: Joseph Roundtree Foundation.Google Scholar
  22. Karsten, L. (2003). Family Gentrifiers: Challenging the city as a place simultaneously to build a career and to raise children. Urban Studies, 40(12), 2573–2584.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. King, R. (ed). (1974). Children in High Rise Flats. Sydney: Research Project on Housing, Faculty of Architecture, University of Sydney.Google Scholar
  24. Leckie, G., & Hopkins, J. (2002). The public place of central libraries: Findings from Toronto and Vancouver. Library Quarterly, 72(5), 326–372.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Louv, R. (2008). Last child in the woods: Saving our children from nature-deficit disorder. Chapel Hill: Algonquin Books.Google Scholar
  26. Lynch, K. (1977). Growing up in cities. Boston: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  27. Malone, K. (2006). United Nations: A key player in a global movement for child-friendly cities. In B. Gleeson & N. Sipe (Eds.), Creating child-friendly cities: Reinstating kids in the city (pp. 13–32). Milton Park: Routledge.Google Scholar
  28. Marcus, C. (2003). Shared outdoor space and community life. Places: A Quarterly Journal of Environmental Design, 15(2), 32–42.Google Scholar
  29. Marcus, C., & Sarkissian, W. (1986). Housing as if people mattered: Site design guidelines for medium density housing. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  30. OCAD [Ontario College of Art and Design] University, Georgia Institute of Technology, New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. (2013). Active design supplement: Affordable designs for affordable housing. New York City: Centre for Active Design.Google Scholar
  31. Price, G., & Reis, R. (2010). Making kid-friendly cities: Lessons from two cities. Preventive Medicine, 50, S95–S96.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Randolph, B. (2006). Delivering the compact city in Australia: Current trends and future implications. Urban Policy and Research, 24(4), 473–490.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Sipe, N., Buchanan, N., & Dodson, J. (2006). Children in the urban environment: A review of the research. In B. Gleeson & N. Sipe (Eds.), Creating child-friendly cities: Reinstating kids in the city (pp. 86–102). Milton Park: Routledge.Google Scholar
  34. Staemphli, M. (2009). Reintroducing adventure into children’s playgrounds. Environment & Behavior, 41(2), 268–280.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Tranter, P., & Pawson, E. (2001). Children’s access to local environments: A case study of Christchurch, New Zealand. Local Environment, 6(1), 27–48.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Valentine, G. (1997). “Oh Yes I Can” “Oh No You Can’t”: Children and parents’ understandings of kids’ competence to negotiate public space safely. Antipode, 27(1), 65–89.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Van Vliet, W. (1981). Neighbourhood evaluations by city and suburban children. Journal of the American Planning Association, 47(4), 458–466.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Verthesel, A., & Wilcox, F. (2006). Children and housing: “Only the Best is Good Enough” – Some evidence from Belgium. Childhood, 13(2), 205–224.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Ward, C. (1977). The child in the city. Middlesex: Penguin Books.Google Scholar
  40. Whitzman, C. & Mizrachi, D. (2012). Beyond Wastelands and Glasshouses: creating child-friendly urban environments, Urban Policy and Research, 30(3), 233-249.Google Scholar
  41. Wilson, E. (1991). The sphinx in the city: Urban life, the control of disorder, and women. London: Virago Press.Google Scholar
  42. Wright, A. (2013). Future park: Imagining tomorrow’s urban parks. Collingwood: CSIRO Publishing.Google Scholar
  43. Yuen, B. (1995). Public housing-led recreation development in Singapore. Habitat International, 19(3), 239–252.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Yuen, B., Yeh, A., Appold, S., Earl, G., Ting, J., & Kwee, L. (2006). High-rise living in Singapore public housing. Urban Studies, 43(3), 583–600.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Singapore 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of ArchitectureMelbourne UniversityParkvilleAustralia

Personalised recommendations