Brazilian City; Brazilian City;

Child-centred planning in Brazil, Salvador

A child-friendly approach to urban planning 

Children living in informal settlements in areas of rapid urbanisation are severely affected by a lack of basic services, inadequate living conditions, and limited opportunities for individual and community growth. A child-centred approach is required to ensure their needs and constraints are included in decision-making and planning.

As part of The Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities Programme, Arup is assisting the municipality of Salvador in Brazil to develop a child-centred approach to resilience building in informal settlements. In the favela of Novos Alagados, Arup is working to improving the liveability and safety for children and their caregivers. The project is being delivered in partnership with Bernard van Leer Foundation’s Urban95 initiative and Avsi Brazil, an NGO that has been operating in the area for over 15 years. 

We conducted a spatial assessment of the favela Novos Alagados in collaboration with Avsi Brazil using both quantitative and qualitative methods of analysis. The observations and GIS analysis were linked and mapped spatially to indicate the challenges and risks associated to the area. 

Project Summary

300 million children live in urban slums

70% of the world's children will live in cities by 2050

An inclusive approach 

Using the Child-centred Urban Resilience Framework, developed by Arup in collaboration with Plan International, we organised a participatory workshop with children and caregivers living in Novos Alagados. The aim was to understand the area through the eyes of the children, to understand the challenges they face, and to help identify possible interventions and solutions to improve their quality of life. We used relevant best-practice design solutions and employed participatory methods and tools to ensure the views of the children became firm actions. 


By adopting this approach, we tackled and prioritised the needs and aspirations of the children in the planning and design of their urban environment, whilst strengthening their capacity to be a part of the decision-making processes that affect them.  We identified short and mid-term interventions aimed at improving the liveability and safety of the favelas, which were included in the Salvador Resilience Strategy launched in March 2019.

The work in Brazil also informed our collaboration with the Bernard van Leer Foundation, which is aimed at developing a design guide for early childhood, creating child-friendly cities in informal settlements and refugee settlements.

By engaging children and considering their scale, senses, movements, interests, and behaviour, it is possible to make more qualified decisions to inform child-centred planning and programming, thereby creating outcomes that are beneficial for everyone. ” Sara Candiracci Arup Sara Candiracci Associate Director

Creating safe cities for all

A child-friendly approach to urban planning has the potential to unite a range of progressive agendas, including health and wellbeing, sustainability, resilience and safety. As a catalyst for urban resilience and innovation, putting children’s needs at the centre of planning can contribute to the creation of inclusive, liveable and safe cities that work better for everyone.

Workshop with children in Novos Algados Workshop with children in Novos Algados
We organised a workshop with children and caregivers living in Novos Algados

Children should be the centre of their community, often knowing a place better than many adults. Their views and ideas need to be heard ” Samuel Williams Consultant