Sustainable urban development – urban spaces for playing, moving and meeting

15. November 2018

Digitalisation and better infrastructures make our lives more comfortable, but social change also has negative consequences. Sitting on the couch, in front of the TV, at school or in the office – we are sitting, which is a health risk. This is because the lack of movement favours diseases of civilisation such as obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure or depression. The ongoing densification of cities also deprives residents of the opportunity to exercise. Sports fields and parks are available, but unfortunately not always easily accessible. Therefore, the focus of sustainable urban planning and development should be on industry and the like, but above all on us humans. The question is how “city” becomes a place of movement and encounter for all generations. How can routes to work and school or pedestrian zones contribute to a healthier everyday life? Urban development has to be rethought in this sense. With a bold and creative approach, sustainable urban planning can succeed, and a more moving cityscape can emerge

Table of contents

Movement-friendly city for all generations

  • Children want one thing above all: to play. And they don’t care where. It, therefore, makes sense to not only consider playgrounds as a closed area but also to consider how other play opportunities can be integrated into urban spaces. Age-appropriate and innovative playground equipment is important. This should not only give children opportunities to try things out but also offer challenges and fun. Opportunities for creativity are also essential, such as playing with water, earth or sand. 
  • Young people have their very own idea of movement. For them, sport is an expression of a lifestyle. Be it skating, parkour or running – they transform their environment into spaces for movement, regardless of whether it is allowed or not. Therefore, for young adults, creating open spaces that they can use according to their needs is more appropriate and another component of sustainable urban development. 

Sustainable urban development is important for every age group!

  • For adults, it is mainly about increasing the quality of life. They want open spaces for the whole family that are not already run down and cluttered. Sport and exercise should be flexible, such as jogging and Nordic walking in the park or spontaneous bicycle tours. Sports clubs with fixed, weekly course dates are becoming less and less important, as the dates are almost impossible to keep in this day and age. If the commute to work is attractive and not too long, and the concept of “sustainable urban development” is right, adults also like to take up cycling – especially now that a “green environment” is being lived more and more consciously. 
  • With seniors, it is primarily a matter of getting them out of the houses in the first place. An attractive environment and sustainable urban development also move the older generation, e.g. to take casual walks. At the same time, there must be seating that is easily accessible and ergonomic. Strength and stamina are not as good as they used to be in old age and require places to rest. First and foremost, seniors need spaces to meet in order to prevent loneliness. 

Jumping and resting – cross-age sustainable urban development 

No matter how old – it is never too late to integrate more movement into everyday life. That’s why sustainable urban development is so important. It is important to combine movement with fun – this can be a labyrinth in the park, small trampolines that invite people to jump while strolling through the city, or bicycle racks that can also be used as climbing elements. Recreation points that invite people to linger and exchange ideas are also a must. What clubs used to do in the past, an urban space of movement and encounter, can do just as well. It turns unknown neighbours into acquaintances, perhaps even friends, and also initiates a kind of club feeling. Run-down car parks, schoolyards, places that are no longer needed and lie fallow are ideal for transforming into motivating play and exercise areas.

Sustainable urban development – thinking around the corner

Developers and architects are allowed to think around corners when it comes to sustainable urban development: Why not integrate flat roofs into the planning, for example? They offer space as well as a magnificent view and are usually empty. Especially in cities with little open space, you have to get a little more creative. The same applies to facility planning: Versatile is better! A football field alone is no longer enough. A comprehensive range of physical activity also needs strength and endurance elements as well as a variety of play opportunities. For a higher quality of life, cities need places where people can meet, exercise and have fun without having to pay for it. It is recommended to involve the neighbourhood and user groups in the planning. The advantage of this is that those affected develop a sense of responsibility for the new spaces for movement, and their use is guaranteed. Sustainable urban development also benefits the city itself because attractive urban spaces also attract visitors from outside.

Attractive play facilities, highest quality and best safety – the basis for sustainable development in terms of children’s play!

The planning of living spaces that enable play and movement is also a significant issue in the area of schools. The most important thing here is optimal planning of school playgrounds, with suitable play equipment and well-thought-out concepts, because the fact that movement promotes education has been confirmed by many experts.

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