Building Cities for Young People: Why We Should Design Cities with Preteens and Young Teens in Mind

Journal of Urban Design, Volume 15, Issue 3 August 2010 , pages 325 – 334

Lisa M. Weston

“As those with planning authority over large areas consider for whom they are planning, it is recommended that the prototypical citizen be an 11-15 year-old person. Some planners have argued for several decades that young people be taken into consideration when planning urban areas. Recent trends in overweight and obesity in young people have focused attention on children’s ability to safely navigate the path to school. Environmental psychologists have long pointed out the connection between children’s independent travel and self-confidence. However, recent advances in neuropsychiatry indicate the brain is undergoing a second period of growth through adolescence. Furthermore, the areas of the brain related to spatial perception and analysis are growing during this period and subsequent actions hardwire the brain. Therefore, this period of young people’s interaction with the environment is a crucial time and cities should be built with that in mind.”