If cities were family-friendly

Child-friendly design goes beyond the design of a beautiful playground. Urhahn researched how to make a city family-friendly, recorded this in the publication 'If cities were family-friendly...' and is organizing a workshop on this theme.


    Families in the city are like canaries in a coalmine

    ‘Families in the city are like canaries in a coalmine,’ says urban geographer Willem Boterman. You can gauge the state of the city by their behaviour. Whether families remain or move away says a lot about the quality of life, traffic safety and the standard of childcare centres, schools and other amenities. Families create socially strong structures. They spend lots of time in the neighbourhood, meet up with neighbours, bring life and a sense of social safety to the streets. The basis for a strong local community is formed at the childcare centres, the playground and, later, at the primary school. In short, a family-friendly city is a healthy, socially strong and liveable city.


    Now is the time!

    The pressure on the city and the difficulty faced by families in finding suitable homes prompt the question: how can we make the city appealing for families while increasing its density? This demands that we structurally consider the design of neighbourhoods, the types of urban family housing, and the sustainable integration of amenities.

    Six ambitions are central to our publication:

    “If cities were family-friendly…”

    …you could reach basic amenities and services by foot or bike within fifteen minutes

    …walking and cycling would be the most important modes of transport

    …the city would be a playground where you can always play safely and nearby in a green environment

    …there would be enough affordable family housing

    …air pollution would no longer exist

    …strong social networks would exist


    Workshop Binckhorst and Molenwijk, The Hague
    A study into how to make neighbourhoods family-friendly was carried out in Molenwijk and Binckhorst, two neighbourhoods in The Hague. Many families already live in the old city district of Molenwijk. There are opportunities here to link initiatives in the fields of sustainability, climate adaptation and social cohesion in order to make the neighbourhood more appealing for families. Over the coming years, Binckhorst will transform into a mixed living-working area. The exact plan has yet to be finalized spatially and programmatically. But now is the time to put the family on the agenda. The main message here is: do not look at Molenwijk and Binckhorst as two separate worlds; there is much to be gained by viewing the neighbourhoods in combination.


    Would you like to know more about how you can contribute to a family-friendly city?
    Download ‘If cities were family-friendly…’, a joint publication by Urhahn and the Van Leer Foundation. Or contact our experts Wendy van Kessel or Ad de Bont for a working session in which we jointly explore how we can improve family friendliness in your municipality.