BvLF partners with Arup on Urban95 guide and VR experience

Published February 19, 2019

On Monday 11 February, Arup and the Bernard van Leer Foundation formally launched a partnership on two new initiatives related to our Urban95 work: a guide to better enable designers, planners, city authorities and development agencies to design and implement child-friendly initiatives in vulnerable urban environments; and a virtual reality (VR) tool to allow users to experience an urban environment from a child’s perspective at 95cm tall.

An event in London introduced the two initiatives, with a panel of experts from the private and public sectors and civil society, and keynotes from Greg Hodkinson, Chairman of Arup, and Michael Feigelson, Executive Director of the Bernard van Leer Foundation. Also at the event, participants had the chance to watch children building the future cities of their dreams using LEGO.

The guide will target the challenges and aspirations of young children (0-5 years old), their caregivers, and pregnant women. It will inform a set of tangible and measurable standards that city governments can adopt to create urban settings that work better for families and children. The guide is due to be published in June 2020. The VR tool aims to raise awareness of the common challenges faced by young children in cities, and trigger decision-makers into implementing child-friendly policies.

Jerome Frost, Global Cities Leader, Arup, comments: “To bring communities together we need to create places to live, learn, work and play that can be enjoyed by people of any age. Places designed for urban childhoods are the bellwethers for healthy cities. Despite the importance of early years to our personal and social development the experience of 0-5 year olds has largely been ignored in the design of our cities. But if we design and plan from their perspective, 95cm off the ground, the environments we create can include and bring together people of all ages.”

Michael Feigelson, Executive Director, Bernard van Leer Foundation, adds: “The planning, design and management decisions that cities make have a huge impact on babies, toddlers and the people who care for them – an impact that lasts a lifetime. We’re excited to continue to scale our work to change the way families with young children live, play, interact and move through cities by partnering with Arup, a global thought leader and trusted partner to cities around the world.”

Working in over 140 countries Arup has more than 14,000 planners, designers, engineers and consultants delivering innovative projects across the world.