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New tool helps you experience a city like a toddler

Using a custom virtual reality tool, the Proximity of Care Design guide is intended to help developers and designers create urban environments that are more liveable for pregnant women, children, their caregivers — and in fact everyone.

New tool helps you experience a city like a toddler

A new guide, intended to encourage those who design and build cities to consider the needs of children when they do so, has been released.

The Proximity of Care Design guide is a joint effort by Arup, a collective of designers and experts dedicated to sustainable development and the Bernard van Leer Foundation, a Dutch organisation committed to child welfare.

The Proximity of Care Design guide

“A good start in life for babies and toddlers is one of the best investments a city can make. Yet most children in urban areas don’t have close access to the safe, healthy and vibrant urban environments and services they need to develop and flourish,” says Rushda Majeed, chief programme officer at the Bernard van Leer Foundation.

Using a specially created virtual reality tool, these professionals will be able to experience a city from the height of 95 cm, the average height of a three-year-old. Actors, real sounds, and a traffic system controlled by artificial intelligence show how a child moves through a city, as well as what a child-friendly environment looks like.

First appearing in 2021, the Guide was initially intended for architects and developers working in vulnerable areas such as informal and refugee settlements.

Related: HDR on wellness-driven cities

The Proximity of Care Design guide

Having been successfully used in a range of projects around the world – including one In Peru, in which it helped to shape a child and family friendly masterplan for the improvement of public, green and play spaces – its creators are now encouraging city leaders, urban designers, early childhood practitioners and property developers around the world to incorporate it into their planning.

Launching the Proximity of Care Design guide, Dr Sara Candiracci, associate director, Europe and leader for social value and inclusive cities at Arup, explains that incorporating the needs of the youngest members of our communities in urban planning will result in better cities for everyone.

“This new guide highlights the practical steps that city makers and leaders can take to embed child and family friendly design principles into their work, and the many benefits that they can generate by enhancing children’s experience of the city,” she says.

Proximity of Care Design Guide


Bernard van Leer Foundation

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