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May 15

Safe school zones – urban research for the development of children’s visibility using co-design and placemaking methods

Although children are a large user group of the city and its public transportation, their challenges are not equally handled in the Hungarian context when speaking about urban planning.

This work-in-progress research aims to explore how social design might facilitate children’s physical and mental safety regarding the inclusivity of public places and mobility formats through placemaking. It has been conducted in collaboration with the Innovation Center of a Hungary-based design university, the Budapest Public Transport Center, the ELTE Institute of People–Environment Transaction and the Municipality of the 7th district of Budapest, aiming to tackle the needs of children (age group 10-13) in lights of public transportation, micro and active mobility intensively focusing on the usage and opportunities of public places around their school. To unfold the needs of the target group the research used process-based co-creational data collection, methodological tools of social design, action research, observatory research, and interviews, resulting in the creation of a design prototype focusing on the specific challenges raised by the target group. The research led to finalising a ready-made product with scalable and transferable potential and providing a set of options (installative and regulative) to Municipalities for alternative ways of traffic calming through placemaking in school areas. This prototype is not a result, but rather a research tool to observe and analyse the children’s behaviour and discover the adaptation potential. Besides being a research tool, the intervention aims to cause traffic calming and to affect drivers’ behaviour through visual stimulation.
The lecture will introduce the results of the research by illustrating what are the main challenges and obstacles children face when using public spaces in a big city (especially in school zones) and what type of interventions can help to ensure their physical and mental safety while using these spaces.