Academic journal article Journal of Sustainable Development

Development of Designing Criteria in Children's Urban Play Space in Iran- Review of Literature

Academic journal article Journal of Sustainable Development

Development of Designing Criteria in Children's Urban Play Space in Iran- Review of Literature

Article excerpt


One of the most significant issues related to urban public design is considering outdoor spaces for children to play. Children need to see their environment as a part of their life and learn to protect it. Furthermore, they develop social, emotional, and physical skills by playing outdoors. In some developing countries such as Iran, limited knowledge exists about the state of outdoor play areas for children in cities. This study highlights the need for planners and other land managers to consider the critical importance of the urban environment for play activities of children and its current status in Iran. Literature, studies, opinions and ideas on the value of play and outdoors for children in cities and the limitations of their outdoor play is explored; the issues and points obtained from the literature are analyzed. And the need for further research with children and rethinking for the allocation and design of children's open space in Tehran is highlighted. Consequently, the criteria to consider children's play spaces in city of Tehran are proposed. Accessibility, local government involvement, knowledge sharing, appropriate playground design and accounting on children's voice and view in design process are some criteria which are recommended to promote children's open space and outdoor play area in Tehran.

Keywords: children, outdoor play, urban open space, playground

1. Introduction

1.1 Significance of Children's Outdoor Play

Play is defined as a variety of activities and behaviors of children in their free time (Pellegrini 2005), consisting of a considerable proportion of opportunities for physical activity (Pellegrini and Smith 1998; Rippe et al. 1993). Despite the difficulty of defining the term because of the complexity of behavior (Powell 2009), play is generally associated with fun, enjoyable, freely chosen, inherently motivated and flexible activities and behaviors (Armitage 2001; Pellegrini and Smith 1998; Titman and McGill 1992). Play is a vital aspect of child development along with emotional, social, physical, and cognitive skills.

Many studies considered the various aspects of outdoor play that influence child development. Research shows that by experimenting, children promote their own physical fitness and social interactions as well as improve their self-esteem (Bartlett, 1999a). Outdoor play provides many opportunities for social learning and being more public. As some children geographers stated outdoor play, "is crucial because it is the primary mechanism through which children become acquainted with their environment" (Valentine, 2004, 74). Through play, children could experience and learn motor skills, communicate with others, solve problems, exercise creativity, and think logically (Hart 2002; Hughes 1990; Bartlett 1999; Barnett 1990; Mergen 1975; Chawla and UNESCO 2002; Chawla and Heft 2002; Beard and Ragheb 1980). In addition, children enhance their conversational and organizational skills, as well as their sense of adventure and exploration when they play with their peers (Moore 1990). However, the literature indicates that children need to play outdoors to completely develop various aspects of their personality, including social, emotional, cognitive, and physical skills.

1.2 Indoor Children

Although play and such activities are vital for the development of children, studies show that at the present time, children seldom experience outdoor play. Instead, they spend most of their time inside buildings or vehicles, which leads to the commodification of the childhood (Wridt 2004). Some other studies show that children spend a significant part of their lives in the virtual world such as television and computers (Zaradic and Pergams 2007).

Moreover, the Benesse Educational Research Center in Tokyo (1999, cited in Clements, 2004) conducted a survey to discover the play behaviors of children in metropolitan and rural areas in Japan. The results show that 40 percent of the children preferred to play indoors rather than outdoors, and 70 percent of the participants stated watching television as the most popular activity of interest in their free time. …

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