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From fenced play areas to a city to play in

06/02/2019 - 19:21 h

Urban planning. The reconceptualization of public space aims to encourage children’s learning and creativity, calm the city’s streets and improve neighbourhood life.

Achieving a city with play-friendly public space involves an overall change of vision which moves away from traditional fenced play areas, detached from their surroundings and offering limited play options, and instead embracing a new way of understanding children’s recreation as a priority for neighbourhood life.

The first plan for play in public space includes sixty measures to strengthen and diversify recreation in the city’s streets, squares and parks. Using urban planning to make a city which is more pleasant and child-friendly helps improve wellbeing, learning and creativity, as well as improving neighbourhood life in a calmer and greener environment.

The follow projects are being promoted to get this transformation under way:

  • Signs prohibiting ball games to be replaced with recommendations for play which is considerate towards others.
  • Streets in all districts to be reserved for play every Sunday.
  • Travelling play activities in squares.
  • Play areas near to children’s free time activity centres.
  • School playgrounds opened up for community use.
  • School environments conducive to play.
  • Water as an element of play.
  • New city sports parks to be created jointly with young people.
  • More services in recreational spaces (loan of games, open-air bars and toilets).
  • Support service for young children with functional diversity.

New spaces for unique games

The diversification of recreation in public space also involves more unique structures to encourage creativity and imagination, such as animal figures or others emulating nature.

In addition to the play structure in Plaça del Sol, in the Gràcia neighbourhood, which was installed in July, over the course of 2019 unique games will also be created  in the Jardins de la Indústria (Eixample), the Parc Central de Nou Barris, the Parc de la Pegaso (Sant Andreu) and in Av. Meridiana (Sant Martí).

Horitzó 2030: more diversity, creativity, challenges and inclusion

The plan is part of the municipal government measure to promote play in the city, with the aim of achieving the following objectives in ten years:

  • Double the number of play areas with diverse activities.
  • Guarantee that all play areas are at least 50 square metres.
  • Increase spaces where children can play with sand and water and stay hydrated in the summer.
  • Double games which involve a challenge: more urban sports parks, giant slides and zip lines.
  • Increase shared play spaces, table-tennis tables and basketball hoops.
  • 100% accessibility at new and renovated play areas.
  • Increase parks and gardens used as places to meet and to play in.
  • Double the number of school playgrounds used as social spaces.
  • Increase the number of improved school environments from four to a hundred.
  • Promote measures to avoid sedentarism and foster active outdoor play.

The transformation project to turn the city into a place to play in has been designed with input from local residents. Over four hundred people, between organisations, experts and municipal representatives, took part in putting together the plan for play in public space in Barcelona.