Copenhagen study tour inspires new play spaces in Tel Aviv

During 2018, Yoav Ben-Yehuda, the Director of Parks and Gardens for Tel Aviv-Yafo municipality, led the installation of 150 new play facilities for young children across the city – including a new kind of covered sandpit he personally delivered. He was inspired by a study tour to Copenhagen in 2017, which we organised jointly with Gehl and Gehl Institute. The experience shows how city leaders can be inspired by visiting other cities working on similar challenges.

Study tours spread inspiration from city to city

The idea behind the study tour was to take top-level managers from various municipal departments in Tel Aviv-Yafo – not only those directly related to children – to see how Copenhagen, renowned as a world leader in family-friendly living, has approached policy issues and public spaces from a young child’s perspective. It aimed to provide an opportunity for the managers to learn from their peers and think through how their work affects families with young children.

Study tours have become a fixture of Urban95 programming. In 2018, for example, we organised another study tour to Copenhagen for 20 planners and decision-makers from five cities – Pune in India, Renca in Chile, and Recife, São Paulo and Boa Vista in Brazil – also in partnership with New York-based Gehl Institute and Copenhagen-based Gehl Architects. A combination of site visits, workshops and presentations explored issues including play, public space design, transportation planning and inter-agency collaboration.

From inspiration to visible impacts

Each team in the 2018 Copenhagen study tour returned to their respective cities with plans for a project to pursue, and we hope for impacts comparable to Tel Aviv-Yafo. Yoav Ben-Yehuda says:

’Tel Aviv has hundreds of play spaces for all ages, but we had never given much thought to the youngest children – how they see the world, how the urban environment is experienced from the point of view of their age and height. It brings us great joy and satisfaction to see how the children use these new play spaces every day in the city.’