Case Studies

What would parks and public spaces designed for girls look like?

A small number of schemes have been designed in Europe, which have come to a remarkably similar set of conclusions and proved that it is possible to make a park much more appealing to girls without incurring vast cost. The interventions include:

  • better lighting;
  • wider entrances to play areas;
  • smaller, subdivided sports areas, or adding a second more open court;
  • seating areas which are arranged in groups rather than lines;
  • circular paths around the perimeter of the park;
  • more swings;
  • good quality toilets.

But the key recommendation is always that these schemes should be taken as inspiration rather than a template because the most important step of all is to ask the girls what they want from the places in which they live.

Vienna

The city of Vienna began its policy of gender mainstreaming in 1992, with the aim of foregrounding gender in every planning decision. This work included the design of parks and public spaces, and the flagship project was Einseidler Park, redesigned with the needs of girls in mind.

Details here

Barcelona

Barcelona is also applying gender mainstreaming to its urban design. Several parks have been redesigned as a result, but the architects Equal Saree were commissioned to turn the urban square of Plaça d’en Baró into a feminist park.

Details here

Malmö

The situation in Malmö was slightly different. The city already had a policy of turning small disused areas into parks for teenagers. After a while they realised that they were mostly building skate parks, and that these were predominantly being used by boys. So for their next development they asked girls what they wanted to see.

The result was Rösens Rodda Matta, a park designed by and for girls, with a climbing wall, a stage for dancing and performing, and plenty of spaces for activity.

Details here

Myanmar

Girls in the city of Yangon didn’t feel safe in public spaces and were under pressure to stay at home, so a charity worked with a group of teenage girls to design a park where they could hang out and feel secure. It’s designed to make anti-social behaviour difficult and, guess what, there are swings.

Details here

photos: Wikimedia Commons / Metalocus / City of Malmö/Doh Eian