Places for People - Assessing user needs - Children's play needs in housing areas

© Anne R. Beer, 1997

Involving the users


The problem now facing the community is that the environment of the modern high and medium density housing area makes it a difficult task for parents to keep control of their children. Combined in many of the poorer estates with a low level of education, that means that parents sometimes give up trying to socialise their children.

In this situation, if parents are to play a part in reversing current social problems, they and other adults living on the estates should be informed constantly about the needs of children.



If measures developed by planners and designers to create better environments for children are to succeed, an atmosphere of understanding is needed which will increase the involvement of the community as a whole. Design solutions are only a part of a whole range of social and economic strategies needed to improve life in cities, both for adults as well as children.



Always remember that play spaces and playgrounds are only a small part of the solution for providing for children's play activities. Children play everywhere - all the time - you need to allow for that in all your design solutions.

Whenever there is an existing community you must work with the local people in order to find out what they want their children's play environment to be like.


In developing an understanding of the local community's needs, it is worth remembering that the approach most people think of first - to use questionnaires - is an unreliable guide as to what a community really needs. When interviewed about an issue that they have never had to address before, many people tend to tell you what they think you want to know, rather than really work out what they themselves think - a much more difficult task.



The best method of getting at what people really want is working with rough models of the spaces available and brain storming what could happen there. This should then lead on to addressing the question of what can really be afforded. The more effort that the community puts in at the site planning and design stages, the better value they will get from the end product - they can claim ownership - it is 'theirs' (see Sheat, 1993 for further ideas about how to work with the public to design play provision).

Why plan for play

Standards of play provision

What is play?

Designing for play in housing areas

Facilities to support play

Where the child plays

Solutions - local planning for play

Involving the users

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Text and illustrations (unless stated otherwise) © Anne R. Beer, Map21 Ltd, 2001, all rights reserved. Terms of use: Any involved in education or training may copy the contents of these web pages with the proviso that they always make reference to the origial copyright.

© Anne Beer, 2000
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Map21 Ltd

Latest update 19 Dec 2003