Exploring adults' passive experience of children playing in cities: Case study of five urban public open spaces in Copenhagen, Denmark

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People's passive experience constitutes a major part of their public life in urban public open spaces. While many public life studies examine the influence of the physical environment, others show people influence other people's
public life. How children influence others' public life is rarely studied.

This article studies sensory experience – examining whether adults' passive experience of children playing is pleasant or unpleasant, and sensory attention – descriptively studying various factors influencing adults' attention to children playing.
The study was conducted through an on-site questionnaire-based survey (N = 1810) at five study sites in Copenhagen, Denmark. The sites were selected through a systematic analysis of the spatial characteristics of the physical environment, which describes different spatial and visual relationships between playgrounds and their adjacent public open spaces providing for the varying spatial potential for adults' passive experience of children playing.
The study reveals that children playing overwhelmingly creates pleasant experiences for adults at the study sites. Besides the different spatial characteristics from the spatial analysis, the sites' shape, the playground's spatial proportion within the sites, and adults' site familiarity may also influence sensory attention to children playing. While the article does not present precise design guidelines, it provides valuable insights into urban design practices.
Original languageEnglish
Article number104250
Number of pages16
Publication statusPublished - 2023

    Research areas

  • Faculty of Science - Children playing in urban public open spaces, Sensory experience, Spatial analysis, Integrated multisensory stimuli, On-site questionnaire-based survey, Quality of public life

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