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Tanya

Tanya VINCENT

Year of Award: 2011 Award State: New South Wales Social Welfare > General
Transport And Infrastructure > Urban Planning And Design
To investigate how Copenhagen's play yards address the parental fears and higher densities that limit the outdoor, independent play of children in Australian cities - Denmark

Australian family life is changing. Backyards are shrinking, more families are living in apartments. Playgrounds in urban neighbourhoods should be places for childeren's daily play. But risk adversive parenting means our middle years children (7-13 years) are not playing independently in parks with other children. Children are kept safe but sedentary at home. Research confirms what parents suspect: time spent on small screen recreation time is way above recommended health standards. 'Duty of care' and 'public liability' have become paralysing phrases for organisations and public authorities.

While Sydney has some fantastic regional playgrounds, these are drive-to, special occasion destinations. After school care is improving, but school days account for only 55% of the year. For planners and urban designers like myself, the challenge is to work within these new social norms to provide places for daily, outdoor and independant play for families living in cities.

My study investigated a possible model: staffed play-yards. This report contains the key findings of a study mainly on Compenhagen's 'bemandede legepladser'. It also includes site visits in London and Stokholm.

A note on terms: the Danish term 'bemandede legepladser' translates to 'manned playgrounds'. I coined the term 'play-yards' for an Australian audience and use it in this report to refer to the manned local playgrounds. 'Play-yards' seems (to me) to capture the purpose and feel of these places - a place for free, daily and often messy play: a back yard for families without their own.

This report contains information based on observations and interviews conducted during June and July 2012. During my study I visited 33 staffed playgrounds, met with planners, play workers, talked with parents and advocates. My purpose was to document the design and operational aspects of the play-yards to distil the main principles for application in Australian cities.

This report is written from an Australian perspective. It is an interpretation of my observcations. I hope a Danish reader will forgive any oversights or inaccuracies borne of this perspective.

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