This is a book about children, for children. However, I suspect it will not be read by many children. Rather, it attempts to provide a framework, a forum within which their views and sensibilities may be better interpreted by adult voices. By encouraging them to describe their worlds in relation to the physical spaces within which they spend much of their time, we can see and understand more clearly their child-centric view.
I have therefore invited people to contribute chapters on the basis of their work as designers of children’s spaces or in the context of their academic work in the area of contemporary childhood studies. Each contributor has in common a sympathy for children and how their lives are shaped by physical and bureaucratic structures, such as nurseries, schools and play parks, which helps to create the material culture of childhood.
However, I do not forget that children are increasingly dependent on new technology, not just for educational purposes in the school, but also for leisure and social interaction at home. This also defines their ‘space’ as much as the streets and fields in and around our cities might have done for children in former times. Viewed in this way, the architecture of the computer and the television may be just as important to them as the architecture of the classroom or the playground.
Most important is the recognition that children need to be observed and listened to in order for their priorities to be understood within a complex urban environment. Each contributor has this priority in mind, acting as an interpreter of their subtle needs and aspirations, often outside the traditional educational and economic conventions. The end result is, I hope, a diverse range of perspectives which will provide a vision for the future, largely defined by children themselves.