Urban95 Challenge: Winning ideas to improve cities for young children – and for everyone else

Published August 2, 2017

If you could see the city from an elevation of 95 centimetres – the average height of a healthy 3-year-old child – what would you do differently? Finding answers to this question was the aim of the Urban95 Challenge, through which the Bernard van Leer Foundation offered grants to small scale projects, from organisations and individuals from all over the world.

More than 151 applications were received, and 26 were selected. The winners came from 18 countries representing all continents. The projects will receive grants ranging from 560 to 30,000 Euros, for a total of 460,000 Euros. You can read more about the winning ideas on the Urban95 Challenge website.

Geographical distribution of the Urban95 Challenge winning projects

Among the primary criteria in the selection process were innovativeness and replicability. “We weren’t necessarily looking for high-tech implementations, but for tangible solutions for everyday needs and issues,” explains Ardan Kockelkoren, research analyst in the Knowledge for Policy team at the Bernard van Leer Foundation.

The diverse approaches proposed illustrate one of the central claims of the Bernard van Leer Foundation’s Urban95 strategy: that investing in early childhood can enhance the urban environment for everyone.

“The world is urbanising in a huge way. Cities can be great places to grow up, but also can be really difficult,” says Patrin Watanatada, Knowledge for Policy Director at the Bernard van Leer Foundation. “One of the best investments a city can make is planning to meet the needs of its youngest inhabitants,” says Michael Feigelson, Executive Director at the Bernard van Leer Foundation. “As pioneering leaders from Bogota to Vancouver have observed, if the children in a city are doing well, everybody else is probably doing well too.”

Collage with photos from winning projects from Mexico, Vietnam and Kenya