The Bartlett Development Planning Unit


Designing child-friendly cities: play spaces outside playgrounds

08 February 2023, 4:30 pm–6:30 pm

Children playing on steps playground in Lebanon

A DPU Dialogues in Development event co-hosted with the UCL's Critical Childhood Studies Research Group (CCSRG)

Event Information

Open to



Andrea Rigon


Room 403
Senate House, Malet Street

YouTube Widget Placeholderhttps://youtu.be/NGE5PAR3XL0


Bringing together the designers of cases from China, Lebanon and Italy, the event will discuss the challenges and opportunities to make urban neighbourhood child-friendly and play-friendly.

Through different marginalised and low-income contexts, the session will discuss the importance of unstructured play, play everywhere, intergenerational play, and children’s participation.

The session will also explore what are the context-specific elements and what learning can be drawn from across the different cases. The event is followed by an open discussion.

This event is hybrid. To attend online please register here - https://ucl.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_WP854ht9TCGXnJFCG1sBOA


  1. Qianxi Zjang, NingboTech University and University of Nottingham

Qianxi Zhang is a lecturer at NingboTech University and also a PhD candidate at University of Nottingham Ningbo China. Her ongoing PhD research focuses on Mapping Playability for children in the high-density migrant workers’ communities in China. She is also a playscape practitioneralways taking “play everywhere in everyday living environment” as the core concept and trying to create more daily unstructured play and learning opportunities for children in high-density communities.

  1. Gianfranco Orsenigo, Politecnico di Milano

Gianfranco Orsenigo is an architect and PhD in “Architectural, Urban and Interior Design” at Politecnico di Milano. In his research he investigates how architectural design can equip itself to become a key stage in the process of transformation of marginal territories. He is a member of Mapping San Siro, an action-research project in the public housing neighborhood of San Siro in Mila

  1. Riccardo Conti, CatalyticAction

Riccardo Conti is the Co-founder and Executive Director at CatalyticAction. He is an architect and urban designer with over 9 years’ experience in participatory design in developing countries. He has led numerous placemaking initiatives, overseeing the design and construction of built interventions with vulnerable communities and managing complex design-build projects. He holds an MSc from University College London in Building and Urban Design in Development, and a BSc in Architecture from Politecnico di Milano.


  1. Rachel Rosen, Institute of Education, UCL

Rachel Rosen is an Associate Professor of Childhood at University College London. Her research focuses on marginalised children and families, especially those with precarious immigration status. It investigates their practices of sustenance and care at the intersection of neoliberal welfare and border regimes which shape their lives. Methodologically, she is interested in the ethics and politics of ethnography and participatory research with children and other marginalised social groups. Rachel is the convenor of UCL's Critical Childhood Studies Research Group (CCSRG), co-author of Negotiating Adult-Child Relationships in Early Childhood Research (2014, Routledge), and co-editor of Reimagining Childhood Studies (2019, Bloomsbury Academic), Feminism and the Politics of Childhood: Friends or Foes? (2018, UCL Press), and Crisis for Whom? Critical global perspectives on childhood, care, and migration (2023, UCL Press).

  1. Yat Ming Loo, University of Nottingham Ningbo China

Yat Ming Loo, an architect and architectural historian, received his PhD in Architecture and Urbanism from The Bartlett. His research is inter-disciplinary and main research interests include intercultural city, postcolonial urbanism, urban memory, minority spaces and decolonisation of architecture. He is the author of Architecture and Urban Form in Kuala Lumpur (Routledge, 1st edition 2013).  As an Associate Professor in Architecture and Urbanism at The University of Nottingham Ningbo China, he teaches architectural humanities and design studio exploring how intercultural exchanges and architectural design might operate in placemaking and memory-making, with themes such as migrant spaces, informal urbanism, race/identity and architecture, hybridised memory and marginalised community and social groups. He serves as an Adjunct Professor at the UCSI University in Malaysia.

  1. Helen Woolley, University of Sheffield

Helen Woolley is a Professor of Landscape Architecture, Children's Environments and Society at University of Sheffield. Her research about children’s outdoor environments relates to policy, practice and use and has an increasing focus how this is facilitated or constrained by individuals, structures, organizations and society. Helen is the Head of Department of Landscape Architectures. She is also a member of the multidisciplinary Centre for the Study of Childhood and Youth and the Steering Group for the Sheffield Urban Institute. Her recently funded research projects include Childhood Around the Pacific Rim and Playing the Archive. She also published a series of papers about the global experience of children’s outdoor play.