I am delighted to share news that my forthcoming book Urban Playground: How child-friendly planning and design can save cities, is available to pre-order from the RIBA website here.
The book opens with an overview of urban planning and children, setting out why the topic matters. A working definition of child-friendly urban planning (familiar to readers of this blog) is set out in Chapter 2.
Chapter 3 looks in detail at Rotterdam, the city that has arguably devoted more time, money and energy to the approach than any other, and whose investment is grounded in hard-nosed economic priorities.
The geographical scope is expanded in Chapter 4, with case studies and precedents from a dozen or so cities around the world, from post-Communist Tirana to post-industrial Antwerp, from tropical Recife to Nordic Oslo, from historic Ghent to high-tech Vancouver (also taking in my home city of London).
Chapter 5 moves from description to action, setting out key building blocks and principles, along with a set of tools for implementation. The final chapter reviews prospects and challenges for the approach.
In writing Urban Playground, I was determined to build the strongest possible case for child-friendly planning and design. While it draws heavily on my recent travels (supported by the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust and Bernard van Leer Foundation), it also reflects over 20 years of advocacy, discussion and research.
I am particularly pleased with the look of the book. RIBA’s production team, working with designer Sara Miranda Icaza, have come up with an engaging, subtly structured design palette, with each chapter having its own thematic colour.
This design provides a strong visual frame for the book’s 208 pages and 100+ figures. These include a set of specially-commissioned illustrations by artist, landscape architect and child-friendly champion Sam Williams (lead author of the Arup report Cities Alive: Designing for Urban Childhoods).
RIBA has created a 20-page sneak peek pdf that gives a flavour of the design and content of Urban Playground. [Download button below: file size 18MB. For the full effect, use Acrobat Reader’s ‘Two Page View’ setting, and make sure you enable ‘Show Cover Page In Two Page View’.]
I will be sharing more material from Urban Playground in the coming weeks and months. I am pleased to say that it has already had some glowing endorsements.
In his Foreword Guillermo (Gil) Peñalosa, global urbanist and founder of the NGO 8 80 Cities, calls it “a must-read for anyone who is interested in cities and people”. The Guardian’s architecture and design critic Olly Wainwright says that it “moves beyond vague vision statements and policy documents to outline the concrete steps needed to make cities healthier, more active, and more joyful places for everyone”. Sarah Weir, outgoing CEO of the Design Council, calls it “fascinating and expertly written,” and says that it “shows just how important it is to listen to children and act on what they say”.
If this post has already whetted your appetite, I am delighted to say that – as a seasonal special – until 31 December you can order it at a discounted price of £32 plus postage from the RIBA website. With shipping expected from early January (to addresses worldwide), it could make the perfect deferred-gratification holiday gift for you, or for any young-at-heart urbanist.