The City from 95cm: How Do 3 Year Olds Experience Urban Life?

A global initiative is asking city designers to look at the world from the eyes of a child- quite literally as they ask adults to stop and view the city from a child’s height of 95cm. This strategy, by the Bernard van Leer Foundation, aims “to work with urban planners, architects, engineers and city managers to incorporate a focus on early childhood development into the planning and management of cities.” By both physically and mentally viewing the city through the eyes of a child, we can design cities that are safer, friendly, and more equipped for children.

Cities are home to more people, and more children, then ever before. A good metric of a successful city is a family-friendly city; one that is cognizant of it’s littlest residents. In a previous TH!NK article, architect Guy Pearson spoke of similar goals in his work and the various ways that cities have begun to achieve them. He says that “a key part in achieving [Vancouver’s success as a family-friendly city] has been the development of high density residential areas that also contain ‘human scale streets’ lined with front doors, windows and small gardens; apartment buildings that allow direct access to safe play areas; and a range of good facilities within the block, or close by.”

A graphic from Bernard van Leer's Urban95 strategy asks "If you could experience the city from 95cm - the height of a 3-year old - what would you change?"

Urban95 has partnered with cities around the world to implement this child-focused strategy. What design impacts will these partnerships create? What areas of the city are most in need of innovation to better suit the lives of children? Check out their projects in India and São Paulo as examples of where this work could be heading!


Photo by London Scout on Unsplash

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