Redefining the Meanings of Placeness and Placelessness of Children in Urban Environment

Said, Ismail and Aziz, Nor Fadzila and Sahimi, Nadiah and Yatiman, Noor Ain (2012) Redefining the Meanings of Placeness and Placelessness of Children in Urban Environment. In: International Seminar on Place Making and Identity, 26-27 September 2012, Universitas Pembangunan Jaya, Jakarta .


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In the last two decades, many cities in South-east Asian countries are experiencing rapid population growth. As a result 71 per cent of Malaysians are living in urban areas, with the largest percentage of the population are children. Modern urban planning methods and policies have created living settings that provide less opportunity for children to engage with the outdoor environment. This situation results to low children's performances in three aspects: physical, social, and cognitive. Physically, urban children's dexterity is low, which leads to obesity and other relate health problems. Socially, children are lack of opportunities to engage in outdoor games that could develop not only social skills such as turn-taking, negotiation, sharing and acquaintanceship but also the feeling of flexibility and freedom. Cognitively, children with less engagement with the outdoor environment could have low sensorial actions with the natural elements. As such, children might not understand the attributes of nature such as the shades of greenery, the tune of a nightingale, the freshness of stream water, the elasticity of a tree branch, and the pleasantness of breeze. The concern of urban children's lack of engagement with the outdoor environment has been studied in the last three decades in various disciplines, including childhood cognition, children's geographies, urban planning and greening, environmental psychology, and landscape architecture. In Malaysia, such concern is minimal, relative to the massive population of children living in its cities and towns. This paper discusses the meaning of placeness and placelessness of urban living environment for children’s growth and development. Children’s place preferences and play behaviors in the outdoor environments are influenced by their developmental needs, individuality, physical and social factors. Preferred play spaces become their favorite place, and at time become their secret places. This progressive behavior is due to independent mobility that the children get from their outdoor environment as well as parental decision. In sum, experiencing the outdoor affords children to develop friendship and other social skills, as well as constructing new knowledge through direct participation and hands-on engagements. The knowledge includes the importance of greenery for wellbeing and nature is a play-space which is diverse, timelessness and fun to learn.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Divisions: Faculty of Built Environment > Landscape Architecture
Depositing User: FAB IR Admin
Date Deposited: 24 Jun 2013 05:57
Last Modified: 24 Jun 2013 05:57

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