Anna Sandberg, Outdoor Environments for Health and Well-being - Master's programme
The urban landscape has experienced a major change due to densification. Increased traffic and “stranger danger” limit children’s use of the urban local environment in a free and independent way. The purpose of the case study is to increase knowledge of how girls 8-12 years, use the local area, as well as to gain an understanding of how places, based on the girls' perspective, could be designed so that they would want to use them. The case study is primarily based on walking interviews with a total of 10 girls and has been conducted in the densely built Vesterbro area in Copenhagen. The area consists to a high degree of programmed areas, specific places reserved for children and their parents – and these places are used and valued by the participants. Even girls with more independent mobility, visit these playgrounds and parks, and it is primarily proximity, familiarity and place attachment that determines which places they use. Several girls express a need for more green, quiet, private and secret places in the local environment, where they can feel ownership and deal with emotions. Natural environments seem to particularly promote the girls' place-making, as well as sensual experiences including wild nature, water elements, taste experiences from berries and fruits and animal contact. Backyards fulfil an important social function, and places less planned for play also seem to be important for the oldest girls' social life and exploration of collective identity.