Let’s play outside!

SLR Consulting’s Paul McTernan challenged UK urban planners to be more playful at a recent Playboard conference in Belfast. The ‘Playing Out’ event sought to explore how better design and masterplanning of the public realm can support children’s holistic development. The conference followed the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Fit and Healthy Childhood’s report on the need to create environments that promote play opportunities. Paul’s paper, titled ‘What might a playful public realm look like? Time for systematic change’, highlighted best practice from around the world and set out an approach to develop a better planning policy approach to neighbourhood regeneration and city centre design. Using examples from global cities including; ‘Mi Casa, Your Casa’ art installation in Atlanta and the Machida Kobato Kindergarten, a light-filled playground in Tokyo, Paul demonstrated how design for play can be integrated into the public realm to create engaging environments for children. “The public realm and open space design of our neighbourhoods is all too often focused on the needs of adults at the expense of children and young people. It’s just not something we do well in this country,” said Paul. “The integration of design of play in both a natural and structured way can not only help to bring outdoor spaces alive but can also help to integrate, safe and vibrant communities. We need to ensure that the delivery of play becomes a systematic part of the planning system.” For more information please contact: Paul McTernan