Children as urbanites in Helsinki and Tokyo

Project description

Increasingly, children are residing in urban environments, yet little is known about the urban affordances for children. A place-based approach was employed to map the urban experiences of over 1300 children residing in Helsinki (Finland) and in Tokyo (Japan) in terms of meaningful places (affordances), travel mode and accompaniment to these places. Shared affordances were considered behavior settings, and audited on-site by trained experts for their main function, land use, openness, and communality. Significant differences were found between countries for all affordance categories. Although differences in behavior settings were observed between countries, a number of patterns emerged: outdoor settings and those with shared communality were the most prevalent behavior settings, traffic settings were predominantly evaluated negatively and commercial and indoor settings most positively. Findings suggest that although the context is important, independent mobility and the possibility to actualize environmental affordances seem to be fundamental in both contexts as the key criteria for environmental child-friendliness.

Research themes

Child and age-friendly environments

Active living and urban lifestyles

Participatory planning

Project details

  • Start date:
    January 1, 2014
  • End date:
    December 31, 2016
  • Location:
    Helsinki, Tokyo
  • Funded by:
    Finnish Academy
  • Objectives:
    A place-based study of the ways children and young people use urban space

Project contact

Marketta Kyttä

Aalto University

Team members

  • Melody Oliver
  • Erika Ikeda
  • Ehsan Ahmadi
  • Ichiro Omiya
  • Tiina Laatikainen

Participating partners

Melody Smith

University of Auckland

Ehsan Ahmadi

University of Teheran

Erika Ikeda

University of Cambridge

Related publications

Kyttä, M., Oliver, M., Ikeda, E., Ahmadi, E.. Omiya, I., & Laatikainen, T. (2018). Children as urbanites: Mapping the affordances and behavior settings of urban environments for Finnish and Japanese children. Children’s Geographies, 16(3), 319–332. doi.org/10.1080/14733285.2018.1453923

Participatory Mapping Institute
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