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Think tank calls on architects to improve children's public realm

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An influential independent think tank has called on architects to ensure that public-realm spaces are designed with the well-being of children at the core of the design.

In its Seen and Heard report, Demos found that too often public spaces are ‘actively antisocial to children and built around the convenience of the car and the shopping trip’.

Speaking at the launch of the report on Wednesday (14 September) Richard Rogers backed the report's findings and said it was ‘important to emphasise the importance of small space’.

A Demos spokesman said: ‘Architects can do a lot. They have a sensitising role in that they work with other professionals and can influence them and get across how important it is that children should be taken into account.'

The report, subtitled 'Reclaiming the Public Realm with Children and Young People', also recommends that 30kph speed limits be introduced where streets are shared with children and calls on councils to ‘create iconic play spaces at high-profile locations’.

‘It is about creating a more intelligent way of designing than the current "provide and destroy" method employed by councils, which at the moment tend to fork out money to get play areas built which are then soon destroyed.’

Commissioned by Play England and funded by the Big Lottery Fund’s Children Play Initiative, the report was based on nine months of interviews with young people, professionals and policy makers in Bristol, Fleetwood, Sheffield, Maidstone, Bolton and Islington.

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