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Exploring child-friendly cities at the 2018 Academy of Urbanism Congress in Cork

Clare O'Loughlin Clare O'Loughlin Europe Press Office, Ireland
27 June 2018

With more children now growing up in cities, identifying the simple initiatives that can help them thrive in an urban environment will be key for many cities looking to attract, and retain, a skilled workforce.

This and other topics exploring the opportunities and challenges facing cities will be at the heart of the Academy of Urbanism’s upcoming congress – Cities on the Rise – in Cork from 27-30 June.

Busy park with table tennis games and spaces to sit down. Busy park with table tennis games and spaces to sit down.
Away from the mere opening of playgrounds, becoming more child-friendly can improve a city’s economic performance, encouraging interactions that lead to further social integration. Photo by: Municipality of Tirana

During the Congress, Arup’s Timothy Duin, Urban Planner, and Samuel Williams, Consultant, will lead a workshop to help participants identify some straightforward interventions that encourage children’s place in urban environments.

The workshop, on 29 June, will offer examples of simple interventions for children in cities, including the use of outdoor spaces that encourage safe movement and social interaction, furthering social integration.

By 2030, the majority of the world’s urban population will be children. By considering children’s perspectives when planning urban areas, we can design cities that meet our needs now and into the future. We need to design spaces for all ages, abilities and backgrounds to enjoy together. ” Timothy Duin Timothy Duin Urban Planner

© Juliana Rosa, Bernard van Leer Foundation

Next-tier cities, in focus

The Academy of Urbanism is a network of built environment experts seeking to learn from and promote better cities, in the hope of raising the standard of urban design across the board. The annual Congress is an inspiring opportunity to exchange ideas and hear leading-edge thinking from urbanists around the globe.

Exploring the issues experienced by ‘next-tier’ cities such as Aarhus, Marseille, Rotterdam and Cork, and ways to deliver positive city-region growth will be under the spotlight during the upcoming Congress. Cities that fail to address the needs of children risk negative economic and cultural consequences as families move away.


The amount of time children spend playing outdoors, their ability to get around independently, and their level of contact with nature are strong indicators of how a city is performing, not just for children, but for all generations of city dwellers. A child-friendly approach to urban planning is a vital part of creating inclusive cities that work better for everyone. ” Samuel Williams Samuel Williams Consultant

During the Congress, architects, planners, engineers, administrators and citizens interested in the sustainability of our towns and cities will gather in Cork for a series of talks, hands-on workshops and walking tours. The keynote address will be delivered by leading urbanist Richard Florida, author of The New Urban Crisis.

As a sponsor of the event, Arup is delighted to discuss ways to create healthier and more inclusive, resilient and competitive cities in which to live, work and grow up.