Participatory planning with children

Community planning – the involvement of local people into the city development and future planning – is traditionally implemented in western countries and it is getting popular in Hungary to be used in design practice. Community planning is a democratic method to involve people into the collaborative city planning and in shaping future vision of their neighborhoods.

In the previous years socially vulnerable groups – among them children and youth – are consciously invited to take part in city planning to be able to integrate their needs and demands into open space and community design. Engaging children requires special methods to support opinion making and sharing processes, and these methods are usually integrated into creative learning processes. The aim of the Association is to foster involvement of children into community planning and initiate sample projects with high quality methodology with the possibility to be multiplied or reused in other projects as well.

We use our experiences gathered in built environment education to feed our projects. On one hand the aim of built environment education is to experience the world around us. Through these experiences we collect impressions of the city, and children become able to consciously record and analyze urban space used in their daily life. Therefore in the first phase of the project we focus on collecting information and impressions of the place.

In the second phase our aim is to understand the drivers that shapes our environment: we transmit knowledge necessary for design, and we learn about the dynamics that shape the space.

In the third phase we focus on design and planning: understanding the drivers of space development could make children realize that the built environment is not given but it is the common product of many people living in the area – people that are similar to them, to their parents and to their friends –  and the continuous evolvement of traditions and generational change give special value to the place. In this phase children follow the examples of people they in charge of preserving values and they will participate in determining the future development of the city.