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Environmental Child-Friendliness in the light of the bullerby model


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In this chapter I present a hypothetical model of a child-friendly environment, based on the covariation of opportunities for independent mobility and the actualization of affordances. I have named this model a ‘Bullerby-model’, according to the ideal circumstances where children enjoy sufficient possibilities to move around independently in the environment and to perceive the environment as a rich source of affordances. ‘Bullerby’ can be literally translated as a noisy village. It is used by the famous Swedish writer Astrid Lindgren in her children's novels where she describes the life of a group of children living in a Swedish village. I chose this label for the ideal situation of a child-friendly environment because ‘Bullerby’ offers children possibilities to take part in all everyday activities of a village and it provides children with important roles and responsibilities in the community. With the ‘Bullerby’ label I don't want to claim that a rural village setting can be the only candidate for a child-friendly environment. Any ‘normal’ everyday environment that does not exclude children can be child-friendly. The presented model is a theoretical tool for assessing the child friendliness of various settings. ‘Bullerby’ – type of environments can have many different appearances, in both rural, suburban, and urban settings. I have used this interpretative model to assist in comparing data from four Finnish and five Belarussian neighbourhoods of various levels of urbanization (Kyttä, 2003, 2004). Further empirical testing can validate the model for other countries and different settings.
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Child-friendly urban structures: Bullerby revisited
Anna Broberg
, Marketta Kyttä
, Nora Fagerholm
Department of Surveying and Planning, Aalto University, P.O. Box 12200, 00076 Aalto, Finland
Section of Geography, Department of Geography and Geology, University of Turku, 20014 Turku, Finland
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Article history:
Available online 20 June 2013
Child friendliness
Built environment
Independent mobility
Denitions of environmental child friendliness offer broad criteria that are not easy to study or assess.
We suggest that due to this broadness, these denitions have produced surprisingly few attempts to
evaluate how child-friendly various types of physical environments are. The purpose of this study is to
analyse how the structure of the built environment contributes to environmental child friendliness. We
dene child friendliness by two central criteria: childrens possibilities for independent mobility and
their opportunities to actualize environmental affordances.
We study how built environment qualities condition environmental child friendliness in place-based
ways by asking children and youth in Turku, Finland, to tell about their meaningful places and their
mobility to these. The data consists of over 12,000 affordances, localized by the respondents. This
experiential and behavioural place-based knowledge is combined with objectively measured data on
residential and building density, and quantity of green structures.
Moderate urban density seems to have child-friendly characteristics such as an ability to promote
independent access to meaningful places and the diversity of affordances. We nd that affordances
situated on residential areas are likely to be reached alone, whereas access to affordances situated in
densely built urban cores is less independent. The proportion of green structures is not associated with
independent access. The diversity of affordances is highest in areas that are densely populated and not
very green. Green areas are important settings for doing things, and green structures around emotional
affordances increase the likelihood of liking the place signicantly.
Combining childrens place-based experiences with information derived from objective measurable
qualities of the physical environment provides a valuable methodological contribution to studies on
environmental child friendliness, and the two proposed criteria of child friendliness are supported by
this study. There is no one environment that is child-friendly, but different environments have different
uses and meanings.
Ó2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
1. Introduction
The research literature offers an abundance of denitions con-
cerning environmental child friendliness, where the criteria for
child friendliness are often relatively broad and not easy to study
and assess (see Chatterjee, 2005; Horelli, 2007; Schulze & Moneti,
2007). These different denitions of environmental child friendli-
ness have produced surprisingly few attempts to evaluate the child
friendliness of various types of physical environments or to study
the structural variables of the urban fabric that contribute to this
matter. We argue that it may eat least partly ebe due to the
abstractness, broadness and vagueness of these denitions.
To deepen the understanding of urban characteristics promot-
ing environmental child friendliness, a more focused and oper-
ationalizable denition of environmental child friendliness is
needed. The Bullerby model by Kyttä (2008) is one candidate for
such an approach. According to this assessment model, environ-
mental child friendliness can be dened by two central criteria:
childrens possibilities for independent mobility and their oppor-
tunities to actualize diverse environmental affordances.
The Bullerby model is a theoretical tool for assessing the child
friendliness of various settings. In this article, we propose an
approach where the model is used to study how specic, built
environment qualities condition environmental child friendliness
in place-based ways. Our target in this paper is to combine both
childrens experiential and behavioural place-based knowledge
*Corresponding author. Tel.: þ358 505124554; fax: þ358 947024071.
E-mail addresses: anna.broberg@aalto.(A. Broberg), marketta.kytta@aalto.
(M. Kyttä), ncfage@utu.(N. Fagerholm).
Tel.: þ358 505124554; fax: þ358 947024071.
Tel.: þ358 2 333 5596; fax: þ358 2 333 5896.
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Journal of Environmental Psychology
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0272-4944/$ esee front matter Ó2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Journal of Environmental Psychology 35 (2013) 110e120
with objectively measurable, place-based characteristics of specic
1.1. De nitions of child-friendly environments
The research literature offers an abundance of denitions con-
cerning environmental child friendliness. Themes like safety, avail-
able green space, variety of activity settings, independent mobility
possibilities, active socialization or neighbourliness, and integra-
tion of children into decision-making processes are often included
as essential criteria of environmental child friendliness (Freeman &
Tranter, 2011; Haider, 2007; McAllister, 2009). These kinds of broad,
extensive criteria are also the basis of the work of the international
network of Child Friendly Cities promoted by UNICEF. The Child
Friendly City Initiative (CFCI) encourageslocal governments to make
decisions that are in the best interests of children and promote
childrens rights to a healthy, caring, protective, educative, stimu-
lating, non-discriminatory, inclusive and culturally rich environ-
ment (Malone, 2001; Riggio, 2002; Schulze & Moneti, 2007).
An example of a more systematic denition of environmental
child friendliness embedded in both substantive and procedural
theories of a good environment is produced by Horelli (2007). The
resulting denition includes 10 normative dimensions: (1) Housing
and dwelling, (2) Basic services, (3) Participation, (4) Safety and
security, (5) Family, peers and community, (6) Urban and envi-
ronmental qualities, (7) Provision and distribution of resources and
poverty reduction, (8) Ecology, (9) Sense of belonging and conti-
nuity, and (10) Good governance. When children in different
countries were questioned about their thoughts on the dimensions
in the denition of environmental child friendliness by Horelli
(2007), only a few of these themes were brought up by the chil-
dren themselves. Safety and security, urban and environmental
qualities, and basic services were among the sets of criteria relevant
to children in Finland (Haikkola, Pacilli, Horelli, & Prezza, 2007) and
in Sweden (Nordström, 2010). When queried about these same
dimensions, Italian children mentioned urban and environmental
qualities and basic services in accordance with the Finnish and
Swedish children, but they did not mention environmental safety
(Haikkola et al., 2007). These ndings resonate interestingly with
the earlier results of the Growing Up In Cities project (Chawla, 2002),
where the provision of basic services, the variety of activity set-
tings, and the freedom from physical dangers were also among the
factors that children from six continents and eight different coun-
tries indicated as primary indicators for a child-friendly environ-
ment. In addition to these three themes, green areas, freedom of
movement, and peer gathering places were also important positive
physical qualities of a child-friendly environment.
Chatterjee (2005, 2006) also nds the denitions of child
friendliness to be too broad and suggests that a child-friendly city
can only be studied as a disaggregation, made up of a number of
child-friendly places that children have a friendly relationship with.
She proposes a new theoretical concept of place-friendship that she
bases on a review of the literature on childhood friendship. Based
on the six dimensions of place-friendship, Chatterjee offers a
working denition of child-friendly places in a childs everyday
environment, where these places:
1. provide opportunities for children to develop an attitude of
care for places that children love and respect;
2. promote a meaningful exchange between child and place
through affordance actualization in places;
3. offer opportunities for environmental learning and developing
environmental competence through direct experience in places;
4. allow children to create and control territories and protect
these territories from harm;
5. provide privacy experiences and nurture childhood secrets;
6. allow children to express themselves freely in place.
While we nd Chatterjees conceptualization interesting, it still
seems to be relatively difcult to operationalize. In her dissertation,
Chatterjee (2006) questioned children in New Delhi about their
important places. Based on the data acquired from children, she
concludes that rather than having three separate dimensions con-
cerning activities of children in relatively constraint-free places,
dimensions number four and six (creating and controlling terri-
toriesand freedom of expression in place) could be included
under the higher level construct of meaningful exchange with
places, which introduces children to the affordances outdoors. She
thus proposes limiting the dimensions to four. Similarly, in their
recent study on Iranian children, Ramezani & Said (2012) inter-
viewed children about their important places using the place-
friendship framework and investigated whether the dimensions
can be reduced in number based on the data obtained on childrens
relations to different places. Their nding was that the six di-
mensions of place friendship could be reduced to the following
three: meaningful exchange with place, learning and gaining
competence through place experience, and having a secret place.
Meaningful exchange with place was seen as in parallel with the
actualization of affordances in place (Ramezani & Said, 2012) and
also represented the dimensions concerning the freedom of
expression, care and respect for the place, and creating territories.
What we nd interesting in these two projects using Chatterjees
denition of child-friendly places is that the actualization of various
affordances seems to be central criteria for childrens friendly
relationship with a place when dened by children themselves.
Another critical view towards the abstractness of denitions of
child-friendliness has been aired by Whitzman, Worthington, and
Mizrachi (2010). They analysed how different Child-Friendly City
(CFC) initiatives in Australia have supported physical and social
transformations towards the institutionalization of childrens right
to the city. They see childrens independent mobility (in other
words, childrens possibility to autonomously explore the public
space) as childrens right to the city. In seven governments, they
reviewed plans on a general level and on lower level policies that
deal with young people. They revised these plans and policies in
regard to six elements: whether the plan (1) recognized children as
an interest group; (2) recognized childrens right to all public space,
not only those designed for children; (3) provided achievable tar-
gets, strategies and implementation mechanisms; (4) was inte-
grated into health and land-use planning; (5) included training for
administrators in child rights; and (6) had planners trained in
interacting with children. Interestingly, their policy scan showed
the narrow extent to which land-use planning policies were inte-
grated with CFC initiatives. The language or concepts of CFC were
not in use in the high-level plans governing land use and devel-
opment. Children were not mentioned as a specic group, but
rather in many implicit examples, they were assumed to belong in
specic places designed for children. Whitzman et al. (2010)
concluded that even if Child-Friendly Cities are a promising prac-
tice in its focus on the childrens right to independently roam the
public space, there are still difculties in moving from the social
and health planning perspective that has informed these initiatives
towards impacts on land-use planning policies and practices.
1.2. Bringing the physical environment into the discussion
There are a few studies that evaluate environmental child
friendliness empirically, either on the neighbourhood, community
or city level. Among them are comparative studies by Kyttä (2002,
A. Broberg et al. / Journal of Environmental Psychology 35 (2013) 110e120 111
2004) in Finland and Belarus, and work analysing the degree of
independent mobility of children in various settings (Fyhri &
Hjorthol, 2009; Fyhri, Hjorthol, Mackett, Fotel, & Kyttä, 2011;
Hillman, Adams, & Whitelegg, 1990; Tranter & Pawson, 2001). In-
terviews with families living in the city centre of Auckland, New
Zealand, revealed that the central location was seen as convenient
and less dependent on cars, while play spaces were insufcient,
apartments were not designed for family use, and fears for chil-
drens safety were prominent (Carroll, Witten, & Kearns, 2011).
These neighbourhood- or city-level studies do not offer a detailed
enough analysis of the physical characteristics contributing to a
child-friendly environment.
More information should be gathered on the environments
features that motivate everyday activity that are dened by chil-
dren themselves. This kind of information has so far been mostly
from small, qualitative studies (Veitch, Salmon, & Ball, 2007).
Among the few previous studies simultaneously studying chil-
drens own perceptions of their neighbourhood and the actual
potential for activity in specic physical settings is Wridts (2010)
research utilizing a qualitative GIS approach. She found signi-
cant gender differences in patterns of use of the physical environ-
ment among U.S. children, and interesting differences between the
perceived places of danger and actual reported crime. This
intriguing study was, however, a small-scale project in one neigh-
bourhood with a very limited number of participants.
This is not to say that only perceived information provided by
children themselves is valid when the child friendliness of different
environments is studied. In fact, an interesting study from London,
Ontario, examined whether publicly provided recreational oppor-
tunities for children and youth are distributed unequally in the
spatial continuum (Gilliland, Holmes, Irwin, & Tucker, 2006). This
study looked at the spatial distribution of possibilities for recrea-
tion in relation to neighbourhood characteristics solely from
register-based data. In contrast, the structural qualities of the
environment are often approached solely from a subjective
perspective. For example, in a UK study, children told about their
perceptions of different elements of their physical environment in
connection with their independent mobility and participation in
play (Page, Cooper, Griew, & Jago, 2010). Studies of environmental
child friendliness that would look at more objectively measured
characteristics of the physical environment are still rare, and
studies that would combine childrens subjective experiences with
objective characteristics are almost non-existent. This is a gap the
current study hopes to ll.
In contrast to the few empirical studies concerning environ-
mental child friendliness as a whole, research about the mobility-
promoting qualities of the urban structure has yielded a large
empirical base on connections between an active, healthy lifestyle
for children and characteristics of the physical environment. (For a
recent review, see van Loon & Frank, 2011.) Residential density, the
proportion of green structure, a trafc environment that favours
pedestrian and light trafc, as well as accessibility to recreation
areas and versatile services are among the structural features of a
community that seem to support childrens active lifestyle and
independent mobility (Carver, Timperio, & Crawford, 2008; De
Vries, Bakker, Van Mechelen, & Hopman-Rock, 2007; Frank, Kerr,
Chapman, & Sallis, 2007).
On a more detailed level, features that promote trafc on foot or
by bike include sidewalks and bikeways, trafclight-controlled
junctions, cul-de-sacs and well-functioning public transportation.
Childrens free and active movement is impeded by heavy trafc,
difcult junctions and a long distance to school (Bringolf-Isler et al.,
2008). In addition to structural features of the community, several
social, cultural and experiential features have been recognized that
are related to childrens activity possibilities in different kinds of
communities. For example, a large number of children and a strong
sense of community in the neighbourhood promote childrens
active mobility (Carver et al., 2005; Timperio et al., 2006).
Also in these studies concerning the mobility-promoting qual-
ities of the urban structure, the analysis of the environments fea-
tures has often been based on subjective observations made by
experts or childrens parents, whereas we suggest that the objective
features of the physical environment should rather be analysed by
using Geographic Information Systems (GIS). We agree with
McMillan (2005) and Woolcock, Gleeson, and Randolph (2010) that
questions concerning childrens active lifestyle and urban form
cannot be fully answered without a more thorough analysis of
micro-scale data on urban form and the social and ecological
variation that occur throughout cities. Nevertheless, more detailed
information is also needed on individual and household lifestyles
and place-based environmental experiences and perceptions.
There is also little debate about the relationship between more
broad denitions of child-friendly environments and more focused
aspects of the environment that motivate children to create an
inspired and individual relationship to their surroundings. The next
chapter offers one possible approach to this problem.
1.3. Environmental child friendliness in the light of the Bullerby
To deepen an understanding of characteristics of the urban
structure that promote environmental child friendliness, a more
focused and operational denition of environmental child friend-
liness is needed. The Bullerby model by Kyttä (2008) is one
candidate for such an approach. According to the assessment model
by Kyttä (2008), environmental child friendliness can be dened by
two central criteria: childrens possibilities for independent
mobility and their opportunities to actualize environmental affor-
dances. According to Moore (1986),Access to and diversity [of
resources] emerge as the most important themes in child-
environment policy(p 234).
The Bullerby model is built on the idea that the covariation of
independent mobility and the actualization of environmental
affordances (Gibson, 1986; Heft, 2001)dene four qualitatively
different types of childrensenvironments(seeFig. 1). A child-
Fig. 1. The Bullerby model for describing four hypothetical types and levels of child-
friendly environments (Kyttä, 2008).
A. Broberg et al. / Journal of Environmental Psychology 35 (2013) 110e120112
friendly environment is primarily represented by the Bullerby
type of environment, where the abundance of mobility licenses
and actualized affordances create a positive cycle: the more
children can move around in the environment, the more and in
richer variety the affordances will be revealed. The actualization
of affordances motivates further exploration and mobility. The
opposite (i.e., the negative cycle) can also take place. In the latter
case, children are living in circumstances that are termed a Cell,
without opportunities to form a personal relationship with the
environment. In the Wasteland, possibilities for independent
mobility reveal only the dullness of the environment. Finally, the
child growing up in a Glasshouse lives in a condition where
external affordances are present, and the child can even be
aware of them but cannot actualize them autonomously. A
Glasshouse situation could occur when the media and other
sources of second-hand information give children the idea that
the environment is a eld of ample affordances, but due to
mobility restrictions imposed by parents or sometimes by
communities, children do not have independent access to those
While being aware that the Bullerby model does not include all
the essential criteria of environmental child friendliness, we argue
that the two selected dimensions are among the most crucial and
the most threatened in modern Western societies. It is also note-
worthy that the same physical environment might appear as a
Bullerby-type environment to one child and as a Cell-type envi-
ronment to another. The physical, social, and cultural environments
form an inseparable entity, the adaptation to which is partly
dependent on a childs individual characteristics as well as the
social context (see Bronfenbrenner, 1993).
The Bullerby model is a theoretical tool for assessing the child
friendliness of various settings. In this article, we test whether the
model can be used to study how specic, built environment qual-
ities condition environmental child friendliness in place-based
ways. While the axis of independent mobility has been studied
extensively in relation to urban structure, less is known about the
axis of affordances. Our target in this paper is to combine both
childrens experiential and behavioural place-based knowledge
with objectively measurable, place-based characteristics of specic
settings. Linking the discussion of child-friendly environments to
actual places can also help communicate with land-use planners of
child friendliness, which has been shown to be problematic
(Whitzman et al., 2010).
2. Methodology
2.1. Design
This cross-sectional study focused on determining the re-
lationships between urban structure characteristics and childrens
environmental experiences and independent mobility. An Internet-
based softGIS survey (Kahila & Kyttä, 2009; Kyttä, 2011) was used to
study childrens environmental experiences and independent
mobility based on locality. In the softGIS survey, the respondents
used the Internet interface to mark on a map places that were
functionally, emotionally, or socially meaningful, and described
how accessible and likeable these places were. Respondents were
also asked to mark their home and daily routes to school and to
answer questionnaires concerning school journeys and perceived
health and well-being. Findings about active transport to school
and health and well-being are reported elsewhere (Kyttä, Broberg,
& Kahila, 2012).
The softGIS method used (see Fig. 2) is specially designed for the
use of children and youth. SoftGIS methods have been developed at
Aalto University since 2005 and have already been applied to
eleven Finnish cities, and about 9000 Finns have participated in
softGIS surveys. This methodology was honoured with the webGIS
innovation award in 2011 by Geospatial World Forum (Kyttä &
Kahila, 2011). SoftGIS methods allow residents to produce local-
ized experiential knowledge. As the experiences are gathered using
GIS-based methods, they not only comprise a separate experiential
world, but they also link to the physical environment. The localized
experiential knowledge that is gathered has coordinates and can
thus be analysed together with register-based or geographical data
included in geographic information systems (Kahila & Kyttä, 2009;
Rantanen & Kahila, 2009). The directing board of the research
project, involving public servants from multiple sectors of Turku
city administration, took part in designing the questionnaire items
to make sure the applicability of the data to planning purposes.
2.2. Subjects and communities
The study took place in the city of Turku, the oldest city in
Finland, with about 177,000 inhabitants. It is situated on the
western coast of Finland and consists of different living environ-
ments. The centre of the city is relatively dense and urban, whereas
the distant suburban areas are almost rural with their sparse land
use and open landscape.
In the coastal areas of Finland, both Finnish and Swedish are
spoken as national languages. The application was translated into
Swedish and English for the non-Finnish-speaking schools and
children who speak neither Finnish nor Swedish.
Data was acquired from 1837 5th-grade primary school pupils
(10e12 years old) and 7th grade secondary school pupils (13e15
Fig. 2. Front page of the softGIS children questionnaire and page for locating emotional affordances.
Bullerbycan be literally translated as meaning a noisy village. The term is
used by the famous Swedish writer Astrid Lindgren (
in a number of her childrens novels where she describes the life of a group of
children living in a Swedish village, taking part in the normal everyday activities of
the village.
A. Broberg et al. / Journal of Environmental Psychology 35 (2013) 110e120 113
years old). Respondents represent 54 schools from varying
geographical locations in the city of Turku. A little over half of the
respondents were boys, and 52% belonged to the younger age
group. Of the childrens families, 37% lived in single-family houses,
33% in apartment blocks, and 30% in semi-detached or terraced
houses. Most children answered to the Finnish version of the
questionnaire (92%), while 8% answered the questionnaire in
Swedish and only 0.3% in English.
2.3. Sample and procedure
We conducted the study in two phases. In the rst phase, all
elementary and secondary schools of the city of Turku were invited
to participate in the study. During 4 months, onlyabout 1000 pupils
had participated from the total of about 14,000 school children in
Turku. To gather more representative data, the data were collected
in an organized manner and were restricted to two age groups: fth
graders (10e12 years old) and seventh graders (13e15 years old).
Between January and March 2008, two research assistants visited
54 schools willing to participate in the study again. Six schools
refused to participate. These schools were mainly schools with
special curricula (Steiner school, special schools).
Before organized data collection at schools, written consent was
obtained from childrens parents. The data collection was organized
in computer-equipped classrooms in the course of a normal school
lesson (45e60 min, depending on school policies) and was led by a
research assistant ethe teacher supervising the lesson. The chil-
dren responded independently but could ask for assistance from
either the research assistant or the teacher. The number of children
responding simultaneously varied between schools, depending on
the class sizes in different schools, but was generally around 20
pupils. The quality of Internet connections varied among schools,
and some schools faced technical problems.
A total of 3341 children participated during the second phase.
After exclusion from the database of children not in the chosen age
groups and responses received outside school hours (possible
multiple and/or unorganized answering), the sample size was
narrowed down to 1655 subjects. To gather as representative a
sample as possible, we included data from relevant age groups
gathered in the rst phase from the six schools that did not
participate in the second phase (n¼182).
The nal sample size was 1837 participants (1655 þ182). The
respondent rate of the second phase of data collection was 73%
(1655/2280). Of the 625 children that were not reached, 23% were
away from school during data collection, 24% did not obtain con-
sent from parents, and the answers of the rest (53%) were lost
either because of technical problems or because the child was
unable to nish the survey.
2.4. Measures
The degree of environmental child friendliness was studied on
two levels: childrens environmental experiences and independent
mobility, as suggested by Kyttä (2004). Childrens environmental
experiences were operationalized as localized affordances and their
likeability and diversity, and independent mobility as whether the
affordance is reached alone or in company of a friend or an adult.
We use both terms, independent mobility and independent access,
while discussing the independence of reaching the affordances.
2.4.1. Localized affordances
As potentially meaningful places for children, functional, social,
and emotional affordances were studied. The taxonomies used
were based on previous studies (see Table 1). The emotional
affordance category, How does Turku feel?, was based on Finnish
Table 1
Number of locations in the four affordance categories made bychildren in the
softGIS application.
Category, affordance No. of locations
Alone and together in Turku
I meet my friends 1108
I am in peace and quiet 651
I can be myself 412
Allowed place 317
I spend time with animals 309
Im on my own 273
I meet new people 211
I am with grown-ups 200
Nobody is watching me 193
Forbidden place 158
Scary people 87
Place of bullying 78
I am lonely 56
Total 4053
What do I do in Turku?
I ride my bicycle 414
I play ball games 381
I run 324
Own category 321
I go swimming 292
I skate/ski 253
I go on the swings 192
I go sledding 127
I hide 99
I hang/dangle 95
I climb 91
I jump 79
I ride a skateboard 72
I play water games 70
I dig holes in the ground 54
I build things 49
Total 2913
Leisure time in Turku
Im at my computer 469
I go shopping 301
I do sports 300
I just hang out 256
I have hobbies 234
I go to the library 179
I have fun 140
I go on adventures 133
I go to the cinema 130
I play 112
I eat out 112
I have nothing to do 97
Own category 67
I go to sports events 54
I go to a concert 18
I visit a museum 14
I go to see a show 11
Total 2627
How does Turku feel?
Safe 323
A good place to be 256
Peaceful, calm 224
Beautiful 208
Good air to breathe 207
Noisy 204
Boring 199
Dirty 188
Clean 160
Dangerous 125
Bad air to breathe 120
Ugly 106
Rowdy, rough 97
Quiet 88
Exciting 86
Own category 83
Dark 76
Total 2750
A. Broberg et al. / Journal of Environmental Psychology 35 (2013) 110e120114
qualitative research on childrens emotionally meaningful places
(Miettinen, 2006). Some examples of the 17 different emotional
affordances questioned were peaceful or dangerous places. For the
social affordance category, an empirical study in Britain among the
same age groups (Clark & Uzzell, 2002) was applied. In total, 14
social affordances were queried under the heading Alone and
together in Turku, and included, for instance, places to be with
friends or forbidden places. The functional affordances were stud-
ied on a more general (activity) level, Leisure time in Turku, and
on a more specic level (action, operation), What do I do in
Turku?(Leontjev, 1978). The taxonomy for functional affordances
by Heft (1988), as interpreted by Kyttä (2002), was applied to study
the action-level functional affordances. Examples of activity-level
affordances included visiting the library and playing sports. The
action-level affordances were, for example, bicycling or climbing.
The former items represented the interests of the multisectorial
partners of our project from the city of Turku. In each category, the
order of the appearance of individual affordances in the survey
application was randomized. However, the order of the main cat-
egories on the front page of the application was stable. The survey
application allowed the respondent to map up to three localizations
for each affordance. This limitation was due to complexities the
programmers faced in storing variable amounts of data for each
respondent back in the year 2007.
2.4.2. Independent mobility
With each affordance marked on the map, the respondents were
asked how they reached the place. The options were alone, with
friends, and accompanied by an adult. Due to a mistake in the
application, this information was missing in all the localizations of
emotional affordances (22.3% of localizations). And because re-
spondents were not forced to answer the question, this data is
missing from further a 24% of other affordance localizations, in all
from 41% of the places.
2.4.3. Likeability index
Environmental likeability was addressed after the localization of
each meaningful place. The children responded on a sliding scale
from unpleasant to pleasant. The middle of the scale was marked.
The responses were stored as 0e100, with 50 representing neutral.
Unfortunately, the default value in the program was 50, and
genuine neutral responses were indistinguishable from the missing
responses. Therefore any responses of exactly 50 were discarded. In
further analysis, we used a dichotomous variable, where the value
1represented positive likeability (over 50) and the value 0rep-
resented negative likeability (below 50).
2.4.4. Bullerby grid
To test Kyts (2004) Bullerby model of child friendliness on the
landscape scale, the original point data of the affordances set was
aggregated into a grid format using a 250-m cell size. The points fell
into a total of 1427 cells, but to obtain a valid result, cells having less
than three affordances were removed from further analysis
(N¼779). In each grid cell, the percentage of affordances reached
alone was calculated. (Emotional affordances were excluded from
this calculation because of the missing data on independent
mobility.) The overall diversity and the relative occurrence of the
different affordances were analysed with the Shannon diversity in-
dex, which is a popular measure of species diversity in ecology but
has also been used to study social data (Krebs,1989; Reed & Brown,
2003). Shannons index is based on information theory. It is a mea-
sure of uncertainty(disorder ina system) inpredicting what species
a random individual from a collection of species S and individuals N
belongs to (Ludwig & Reynolds, 1988). The Shannon diversity index
was calculated for every grid cell based on the relative number of
affordance points of each of the 64 themes in the grid cell.
base logarithm was used in the analysis (Krebs, 1989).
The grid cells were categorized into four environment types of
the Bullerby model according to the percentage of the affordances
reached alone (mean ¼35, SD ¼28) and to the Shannon diversity
index (mean ¼2.8, SD ¼0.9). The means were used to divide the
grid cells into the four categories. Thus, the axis of independent
mobility was
1. 35% or more of affordances within a cell reached alone, and
2. less than 35% of affordances reached alone;
and the axis of actualized affordances was
1. Shannon diversity index 2.8 or more, and
2. less than 2.8.
Using the share of affordances reached alone, rather than
without adult supervision, is a debatable choice. Childrens
mobility is predominantly social and, as has been noted among
Danish children (Mikkelsen & Christensen, 2009), independence of
mobility is not necessarily moving alone, but moving without
adults, among peers. Nevertheless, weve found that independent
mobility is a problematic variable in the Finnish context, where
children report very few restrictions on their mobility. To be able to
get some variation in the axis of independent mobility in the Bul-
lerby model, we use the narrow denition of reaching the afford-
ance alone as a measure of independence.
2.4.5. Mapping and GIS-based measures
The analysis of the structural characteristics of childrens
meaningful places was based on the geographical localizations that
children themselves gave while using the softGIS application. To
increase the reliability of the localizations, the softGIS application
helped children to orient themselves on the map. After the name of
a childs school was given, the map automatically centred on it.
GIS-based measures of the urban structure were calculated
within a 50-m buffer of each affordance marked on the map and
into the 250-m grid cells of the Bullerby model. The urban structure
measures were:
Proportion of green structure: the proportion of elds, forests,
parks, and water of the total buffer or grid cell area. These were
calculated from the citywide cartographic data obtained from
the surveying department of Turku.
Residential density: housing units per hectare (hu/ha) within
the buffer or grid cell. The centroids for each building in Turku,
containing the information on housing units, oor areas and
population demographics for the building, were obtained from
the city.
Floor area ratio (FAR): calculated as the combined oor area of
the buildings within the buffer or grid cell divided by the area
not classied as green. In the buffer data, ratios over 10 were
dismissed as outliers (1.3% of buffers). These outliers were
supposedly due to incongruence in the geographical datasets
gathered on different scales.
Number of population within buffer or grid cell, calculated
from the above-mentioned building centroid data.
The Shannon index does not have a specic range but is dependent on the
richness and occurrence of the themes and the affordance points representing
them. Thus, a high diversity value indicates there are several of the 64 themes with
a large number of affordances marked in different themes present in the specic
grid cell.
A. Broberg et al. / Journal of Environmental Psychology 35 (2013) 110e120 115
2.5. Analysis
The research data were saved in a database from which the
childrens responses were written out in a table format, either so
that each respondent created one record or so that the record was
created by a single location (i.e., an affordance located by a
respondent). When a single respondent was the basic unit of
analysis, the respondent-based material was provided with
locality-based summaries from the data, such as the number of
different locations, information about the respondents home
environment, or the average distance to meaningful places. This
article covers the affordance-based material. The person-based
material has been reported upon separately (Kyttä et al., 2012).
The data were statistically analysed with PASW Statistics 18
software. The signicances in the differences of means between
genders and the two age groups were studied using t-tests or the
ManneWhitney Utest, and the differences in frequencies using the
test. Analysis of variance (ANOVA) was used to study the sig-
nicances in difference between different categories of affordances
and the grid cells in the Bullerby model. The ANOVA results were
further analysed using Tukeys test. The connections between the
urban structure characteristics and childrens environmental ex-
periences were studied with logistic regression analyses, as few of
the variables followed the normal distribution.
The GIS analyses were carried out with ArcGIS 9.3 and 10 soft-
ware and with MapInfo 8.3 software. Among the most central GIS
analyses were creating buffers around childrens homes and
calculating the residential density and the portions of green
structure and of children within these areas.
3. Results
3.1. Experientially meaning ful environmental affordances e
descriptive results
The children located altogether 12,343 affordances (see Fig. 3 for
the affordances around the city centre of Turku). The total number
of localized affordances by an individual child varied from 1 to 58,
with the mean being 8.2. The age groups differed signicantly in
the number of localized affordances (Z¼5.8, df ¼1498,
p¼0.000), the younger children mapping almost 9 places per child
and the older only 7.5 on average.
The most often located functional affordances at the action level
(What do I do in Turku?) were bicycling, playing ball games, and
running. In the leisure-time activity category (Leisure time in
Turku), computer use, shopping, and playing sports were among
the most commonly located activities. Place mappings concerning
meeting friends, being yourself, and being in peace and quiet
dominated in the social affordance category (Alone and together in
Turku). And in the emotional affordance category (How does Turku
feel?), safe, feel-good, and peaceful places were marked most
frequently (see Table 1).
Boys reached their affordances alone signicantly more often
(34%) than girls (28%), whereas two-thirds of the places marked by
girls were reached with friends (63%), the proportion for boys being
57%. These differences between genders were signicant (
df ¼2, p¼0.000). There was no gender difference in the proportion
of affordances reached in the company of an adult (9%). Interest-
ingly, there were no signicant differences between the two age
groups regarding the company in which the affordances were
Affordances that were most often reached in the company of an
adult were seeing a show, going to a museum, and spending time
with adults. The smallest parental attendance was reported in
places of bullying, playing, hanging/dangling and adventuring.
Affordances most often reached alone were places where one gets
to be in peace and quiet, where one is lonely, spends time on a
computer or with animals.
In all, children liked the affordances they marked on the map.
There were small but signicant differences between the age
groups and genders in average positivity towards the affordances:
girls liked their affordances a little more (mean likeability 80) than
boys (77) (t¼4.1, df ¼10,039, p¼0.000), and the older age group a
little more (80) than the younger (77) (t¼4.5, df ¼10,039,
The affordances that children liked the most on average were a
good place to be (mean ¼92, N¼212, SD ¼14), being at a computer
(mean ¼90, N¼384, SD ¼18), cleanness (mean ¼89, N¼123,
SD ¼18), and safety/security (mean ¼89, N¼268, SD ¼16).
3.2. Urban structure and affordances
Urban structure was signicantly different in the four different
affordance categories. The differences applied to the oor area ratio
(F¼102.0, df ¼3, p¼0.000), the housing density of the built
environment (F¼29.8, df ¼3, p¼0.000), and the lattersclose
companion population density (F¼33.7, df ¼3, p¼0. 0000) and for
a contrasting measure, the proportion of green structures
(F¼116.4, df ¼3, p¼0.000).
Activity-level functional affordances differed signicantly from
all the other categories and were in the most densely built areas
(oor area ratio on average 0.75). Emotional affordances (mean
0.44) differed nearly signicantly from both the social (mean 0.5)
and action-level functional (mean 0.38) affordances (Tukeys
p¼0.02 and p¼0.018, respectively). Examples of affordances
where the FAR is highest are going to cinema, shopping, and
visiting library, museums and sporting events. Affordances with the
least densely built surroundings include actions such as sleigh
riding, climbing, and skiing or skating, but also beautiful places and
places where air feels good to breath.
Looking closer at the differences in housing density around
affordances, the differences distil into the action-level functional
affordances being situated in the least densely built surroundings
(mean 16 housing units per hectare). The mean housing density for
the other categories lies between 23 and 25 housing units per
Fig. 3. The affordances marked by the children in the city centre of Turku.
A. Broberg et al. / Journal of Environmental Psychology 35 (2013) 110e120116
hectare, the differences being not signicant. Population-wise,
similar ndings apply. The size of the population around action-
level functional affordances differs from all the other categories e
it is smaller. Also, emotional affordances and activity-level func-
tional affordances differ from each other, the latter being in
signicantly more densely populated settings. The affordances
where housing and population densities are high include going to
the cinema, using a computer, playing, and spending time with
adults. These can be seen as affordances typical for residential
areas. Within the ve most densely housed affordances are also
emotional places where the feeling is rowdy or rough (mean 34 hu/
The amount of greenery varies signicantly between all the
categories. Action-level functional affordances (green structures on
average 44%) and emotional affordances (mean 33%) were located
in the most green environments. Leisure-time, activity-level func-
tional affordances (mean 27%) and social affordances (mean 29%)
were situated in the least green places. The most green affordance
surroundings are around places where respondents ski or skate,
swim, and play water games, but also around places experienced as
beautiful. The list of least green affordance surroundings includes
the already listed city-life affordances of shopping, visiting the li-
brary, and going to the cinema, buteven less green are places where
new friends can be made and places that are noisy.
The affordances marked by girls (mean percentage green 32%)
were in signicantly less green surroundings than those marked by
boys (36%) (t¼6.1, df ¼12,309, p¼0.000). There were no differ-
ences between age groups. Correspondingly, the affordances
marked by girls were in signicantly more densely built sur-
roundings (mean 23.7 hu/ha, FAR 0.58) than those marked by boys
(20.5 hu/ha, FAR 0.45) (t
¼4.2, df ¼12,309, p¼0.000 and
¼8.2, df ¼11,993, p¼0.000).
Interestingly, when the density of the built environment is
examined as housing density, the younger age groups affordances
are in nearly signicantly denser settings (mean 22.8 hu/ha) than
those of the older age group (21.3) (t¼2.0, df ¼12,309, p¼0.045).
But when we scrutinize density as oor area ratio, the opposite
holds true: the older age group has marked their affordances in
signicantly denser surroundings (FAR 0.56) than the younger age
group (FAR 0.46) (t¼7.3, df ¼11,993, p¼0.000). This suggests
that the affordances of younger children concentrate on residential
areas, whereas those of older children concentrate on commercial
or central areas.
3.3. Urban structure effects on the independent access to and
positivity towards the affordances
Next we analysed the effect of the urban structure on childrens
independent access to their marked affordances. Gender was
included in all the logistic regression models but is not reported
upon separately. Housing density around affordances increased the
likelihood of a child coming to the affordance alone (OR ¼1.004, CIs
1.0 0 3e1.005, p¼0.000). The amount of population around the
affordance had a similar effect on the likelihood of accessing the
affordance independently (OR ¼1.004, CIs 1.003e1.005, p¼0.000).
An increase in the oor area ratio decreased the likelihood of
reaching the place alone (OR ¼0.786, CIs 0.734e0.843, p¼0.000).
Interpreting these results, affordances that are situated in resi-
dential areas are likely to be reached alone, whereas affordances
situated in densely built urban cores are likely to be reached with
others. The proportion of green structures did not have any sig-
nicant effect on the likelihood of independent access.
Some of the urban structural variables were associated with
childrens stated preference for affordances, namely population
around affordances (OR ¼1.002, CIs 1.001e1.0 0 4, p¼0.001) and
the proportion of green structures (OR ¼1.004, CIs 1.002e1.006 ,
p¼0.000). Gender and age group were included in these logistic
regression models, but their effect on the models is not reported
upon separately. An increase in the size of population around
affordances increased the likelihood of stating a positive value of
likeability, and interestingly, the result was different between
different affordance categories. The effect of the population
numbers on positivity was found specically in the emotional
(OR ¼1.002, CIs 1.000e1.005, p¼0.03) and social (OR ¼1.004, CIs
1.0 0 2e1.00 7, p¼0.001) affordance categories. The more people
there were living around the affordance, the more likely the chil-
dren were to state a positive preference towards the affordance. The
green structurespositive effect on the likelihood of a positive
perception held only in the emotional affordance category
(OR ¼1.009, CIs 1.006e1.011, p¼0.000), and here the greenness
around the emotional affordance signicantly increased the likeli-
hood of liking the place.
3.4. Testing the Bullerby model of child friendliness
The series of maps on Fig. 4 represent our operationalization of
the Bullerby model. The rst of the maps shows the number of
Fig. 4. Child friendliness of the environments in the city of Turku as evaluated with the Bullerby model.
A. Broberg et al. / Journal of Environmental Psychology 35 (2013) 110e120 117
affordances in the 250-m grid cells and gives an idea of the
importance of the city centre to the respondents as well as the
abundance of affordance localizations around residential areas of
Turku. The diversity of different affordance categories in the cells,
shown on the second map, follows to some extent the overall
number of affordances; but diversity can also be great in cells
where the actual numbers are not the highest. Areas in Turku,
where the majority of the affordances are reached independently,
are scattered around the city, and generally the city centre gathers
lower levels of independent access, as can be seen from the third
The last of the maps looks at the variety in affordances and in-
dependent access to them simultaneously and thus draws a picture
of the child friendliness of Turku, as understood according to the
Bullerby model. Large areas of the city centre fall into the Glass-
house category, where variety in affordances is large, but inde-
pendent mobility is on a low level. Bullerby types of environments,
where affordances are many and can be reached alone, border
Glasshouse environments near the city centre, but areas like this
are also scattered around the whole study area. Only larger
stretches of Cell types of environments can be found in the areas
south and southwest from the centre, on the way to the residential
areas on the islands.
According to our operationalization of the Bullerby model, 28.5%
of the cells were categorized into Cell and 26.6.% into Glasshouse
types of environments, while a little over one-fth (21.6%) were
Wasteland environments and 23.4% were of the Bullerby type.
Variables concerning the urban structure, such as population
density or proportion of green structures, were calculated for the
grid cells, and variance in these structural variables between cells
categorized differently according to the Bullerby model was ana-
lysed. There was signicant structural variation between the grid
cells in relation to size of population (F¼24.6, df ¼3, p¼0.000)
and proportion of green structures (F¼13.0, df ¼3, p¼0.000),
whereas the cells in the different categories did not vary in their
residential density or oor area ratio.
Looking at population numbers, the main result is that Bullerby
and Glasshouse types of environments differ from Wasteland and
Cell types (Tukey: Bullerby/Wasteland p¼0.000, Bullerby/Cell
p¼0.000, Glasshouse/Wasteland p¼0.008, Glasshouse/Cell
p¼0.000). Bullerby and Glasshouse represent environments where
the residential density is relatively high (on average 240 and 244
persons living in the cells, respectively), whereas Cell (mean 108)
and Wasteland (mean 126) are more sparsely populated. The pro-
portion of green structure differentiates the groups in a similar
manner, Wasteland and Cell forming the greener pair (means 42%
and 46%, respectively), Bullerby (33%) and Glasshouse (33%) being
the less green.
4. Discussion & conclusions
Combining place-based knowledge (rst based on childrens
experience and second derived from objective measurable qualities
of the physical environment) provided a valuable methodological
contribution to studies on environmental child friendliness. The
study revealed that as a whole, the studied Finnish children
enjoyed widespread possibilities for active and independent
mobility and the building of a personal experiential relationship
with their outdoor environment. We chose to study environmental
child friendliness from the viewpoint of the Bullerby model,
concentrating on the affordances that an environment provides the
children and on childrens independent access to these. These two
criteria proved to offer interesting insights on different urban en-
vironments. The children had many personally meaningful places
in outdoor settings. The softGIS methodology used in the study
allowed children to mark personally meaningful affordances on the
map, and children located on average eight places per child.
Our results partly conrmed the previous ndings from mobility
research about the ability of some urban environmental charac-
teristics to promote childrens independent mobility. We discov-
ered positive associations between residential and population
density and childrens independent access to affordances, whereas
building density, measured as oor area ratio, had a negative as-
sociation with childrens independence in reaching affordances.
Urban density around the affordances marked by the younger and
the older age group were different. Older children and adolescents
marked their affordances in central locations where building den-
sities were high, while affordances of the younger group were
located more in residential areas, where housing density and
population numbers were high. One might also assume that the
older age group reaches their affordances more independently than
the younger, be it alone or with peers, but age group differences in
reaching the affordance did not occur in our data. This might have
to do with the fact that the affordances of the older group are
further away from their home. Ideally, residential areas could be
developed to offer more intriguing places for youth. Indeed, not
only child friendliness but also youth friendliness of environments
should be studied (see also Woolcock et al., 2010).
Green areas are important settings for childrens experiences.
Especially action-level functional affordances were present in sur-
roundings where green structures were prominent. The greenest of
all the affordances were beautiful places. And indeed, when looking
at emotional affordances, the larger the proportion of green
structures, the likelier the positive evaluation of the place. This
reects well-documented previous research literature on the
restorative qualities of green settings: the proximity to nature
associated with sparse building promotes mental health as a setting
for stress restoration (van den Berg, Koole, & van der Wulp, 2003).
We have also found that the amount of green structure around a
childs home is positively associated with good perceived health
(Kyttä et al., 2012). Then again, different urban structures are
important for different experiences. As an example of this, popu-
lation numbers were bigger around social affordances than any
other category. Also, the more residents there were around the
social affordance, the more children liked the place.
The ability of the Bullerby model to reveal the essential char-
acteristics of the physical environment that contribute to envi-
ronmental child friendliness was supported in this study. The
approach was especially useful for the analysis of the resource
dimension, which is seldom studied in close connection with the
physical characteristics of the environment. Physical environments
where the diversity of affordances was vast were more densely
populated and less green than the less diverse environments. The
dimension measuring the independent access to affordances,
however, did not show differences between the urban structure of
the grid cells categorized into different environmental types of the
Bullerby model. The way the access of independence was measured
was also problematic, not only because there weremissing data but
because of the narrow denition of independence being used. In-
dependence of mobility is not necessarily moving alone, but
moving without adults, among peers (Mikkelsen & Christensen,
2009). Also, results from a previous study concentrating on chil-
drens activity levels in parks highlight the importance of inde-
pendence from parents or supervisors but with other children
present. The presence of parental supervision while the child was in
a park had a strong negative effect on childrens activity, while the
presence of other active children was strongly positively associated
with park-based physical activity (Floyd et al., 2011).
While we completely agree on childrens mobility being social,
in this study we used the narrow denition of reaching the
A. Broberg et al. / Journal of Environmental Psychology 35 (2013) 110e120118
affordance alone as a measure of independence. This is due to the
low parental attendance that the children reported: 9% for both age
groups. In other, more restrictive mobility contexts, it would be
worthwhile to use the broader denition of independent mobility.
We also suggest that in future research, the accessibility dimension
should be studied, more broadly taking into account not only in-
dependent mobility, but also travel mode and frequency of visits,
possibly also the social equality of accessibility. Future research in
variable contexts could also enable the nding of some standard-
ized thresholds for the levels of independence and variability of
affordances that would have to be met for an environment to be
considered child-friendly. It is worth noting that green areas didnt
appear as child-friendly in our Bullerby analysis. However, they
proved to be very important for the children in the affordance-
based analysis. This implies that measuring the emotional
response to the place along with the accessibility is important.
Despite the need for future research on the Bullerby model,
there was evidence that the two basic dimensions, the independent
access to and diversity of the affordances, are connected. Our pre-
vious study showed, for example, that the number of affordances
that children marked was correlated with physical activity on the
school journey (Kyttä et al., 2012). This strengthens the conception
that there is a close connection between the two central features of
a child-friendly living environment, independent mobility and
richness of affordances. The affordances were also very central to
children in the research using Chatterjees concept of the child-
friendly place (Chatterjee, 2006; Ramezani & Said, 2012). Maybe
the learning and competence building that Chatterjee (2005) pro-
poses as a criterion for child-friendliness could in effect be seen as
an outcome of the situation where a child lives in a child-friendly
environment, rather than characteristics of the environment. In a
similar line of reasoning, health outcomes are often attributed to
situations where a child (or an adult, for that matter) lives in an
environment that allows physical activity.
When discussing the child friendliness of environments,
concentrating on outdoor environments can be too narrow a view.
One of the affordances children themselves liked most was being at
a computer, and also the sheer number of these localizations was
the third most liked. Even if this can reect computer use being one
of the few home-based affordances the children were offered to
locate, it should be noted that virtual and electronic environments
can act as important spaces for play, interaction and socialization
for children and youth.
The reliability and validity of research data collected via web-
based methodology demand critical evaluation. Finnish children
are probably used to communicating via the Internet because 99%
of Finnish households with children have Internet access (European
Commission, 2011). Earlier studies have shown that adolescents
tend to prefer a Web-based over a paper-based questionnaire, and
health-related surveys generally result in equal results regardless of
the method of implementation (Mangunkusumo et al., 2005).
However, web-based surveys can be vulnerable to mistakes in the
programming work, as was shown by the missing independent
mobility data on emotional affordances. Our research themes e
environmental experiences and independent mobility ewere
studied as perceived, subjective phenomena. To develop valid and
reliable measures, we used existing scales and taxonomies from
previous studies as much as possible. In most of the themes, self-
reports by the youths studied (ages 10e12 and 13e15) are prob-
ably more reliable than proxy reports from parents. And childrens
ability to report their experiences on a map can also be questioned.
Nordin and Berglund (2010) have researched the use of GIS-based
mapping methods with Swedish children aged 10e15 years and
have found them capable of reading maps and using a GIS appli-
cation for communicating their interests. Even if we did not
specically research childrens ability to respond to the mapping
questions, it can be hypothesized that the skill level is on a similar
level as in Sweden. Orienteering is also a part of the national cur-
riculum in Finland.
Several limitations and strengths of the study should be
mentioned. First, as the softGIS method for children was used for
the rst time in this study, some mishaps occurred. The order in
which the affordance categories were shown on the main page was
not randomized for different users, and thus the numbers of
different affordances, especially between categories, do not indis-
putably reect the relative importance of these affordances for the
children. Data on independent mobility was missing from 41% of
the affordances. Half of this was due to a mistake in the application;
but the other half might be due to the vagueness of the denition.
Children might sometimes come to the places alone, while other
times with friends or adults; and thus it might be complicated to
pick just one option. Another limitation was the relatively low
quality of the register-based GIS data. This did not allow very ne
analysis of the urban environment. In future studies concerning
environmental affordances and mobility, the urban structural an-
alyses should include measures concerning the possibilities for
light trafc, public transportation options, and functions of the
urban environment, such as shops, restaurants, and playgrounds.
Finally, the Bullerby grid-based analysis of environmental child
friendliness seems to emphasize grid cells where there are plenty of
affordance localizations, and this does not necessarily reect only
the importance of these places, but also the number of respondents
who live near that place. Then again, the Shannon diversity index
used to study the richness of the affordances is logarithmic and
takes into account the number of localizations.
The strengths of the study lie in the innovative, Internet-based
softGIS method that proved to be a promising way to study the
conditions of child-friendly living environments in a detailed
manner and in a way that also inspires children. Linking the dis-
cussion of child-friendly environments to actual physical environ-
ments in a simple way egrounded in the experiences of children
rather than in the ideals of researchers ecan also make the concept
more usable to urban planners. It is important to develop the
environmental child friendliness of whole environments and not
just focus on school journeys or places specially designed for chil-
dren. Children do not move around actively if the environment
does not offer them intriguing challenges and a rich variety of
possibilities for diverse activities. Children should also be seen as
abled and active users of their environment and as informants
possessing valuable insights into the possibilities and restrictions of
different environments.
The authors wish to thank the multisectoral steering group from
the city of Turku for extremely active and valuable co-operation.
We are very grateful to the headmasters, teachers, and naturally
the pupils of participant schools. The idea of using Shannon di-
versity index was born in discussions with colleagues at Laboratory
of Computer Cartography (UTU-LCC) at University of Turku. Mar-
ketta Kyttä worked as doctoral researcher of the Academy of
Finland during the project. The project was funded by Tekes, the
Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation, and the
Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture.
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... In this paper we aim to develop a practical framework that defines criteria and guidelines that allow users to assess if an environment connects children to nature or not. We have been inspired by seminal work, in which he identified sets of suitable relations between children's behaviors and outdoor environments that have been consequently used to assess if an environment is more or less "child-friendly" (Kyttä, 2002(Kyttä, , 2006. In support of this aim identify which sets of relations can categorize an environment as more or less "child-nature-connecting." Classifying an environment as more or less child-friendly relies on quantifying or qualifying an environment using lists of behavioral and social criteria that are suitable for children. ...
... A renowned example of this is list of children-outdoor relations mentioned above that inspired this research. However, "Gibson hardly wanted to divide the world up into material, social, or cultural worlds, as he was against all division of environmental experience" (Kyttä, 2002, 76) and in recent times we have seen attempts to include emotional (Roe and Aspinall, 2011) and social affordances (Kyttä, 2006) in assessment models of human-environment relations (Kyttä, 2006;. One of the latest formulations of affordance-based theory is the concept of embodied ecosystem, which highlights the relational values of ecosystems that dynamically emerge by the sets of relations existing between mind, body, culture, and environment . ...
... A renowned example of this is list of children-outdoor relations mentioned above that inspired this research. However, "Gibson hardly wanted to divide the world up into material, social, or cultural worlds, as he was against all division of environmental experience" (Kyttä, 2002, 76) and in recent times we have seen attempts to include emotional (Roe and Aspinall, 2011) and social affordances (Kyttä, 2006) in assessment models of human-environment relations (Kyttä, 2006;. One of the latest formulations of affordance-based theory is the concept of embodied ecosystem, which highlights the relational values of ecosystems that dynamically emerge by the sets of relations existing between mind, body, culture, and environment . ...
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Modern childhood is increasingly segregated from nature. Yet, children’s nature experiences are first steps for sustainable futures. In this thesis, I research the foundations of habitats that can connect children to nature. I call them nature-connecting habitats. Five papers in this thesis answer: (RQ1) what is children’s human-nature connection (HNC)?; and (RQ2) what are the requirements of nature-connecting habitats for children? The "preschools paper" shows that five-year-olds with nature-rich routines have higher HNC than children with nature-poor routines, but it cannot understand which nature experiences are most influential. Hence, the "salamanders paper" assesses children’s participation in a nature conservation project. Discrepancies between the qualitative and quantitative results reveal an assessment gap with theoretical roots, which impedes the assessment of nature experiences in practical time-frames. To close this gap, the "review paper" surveys the literature and shows that attributes of the mind, qualities of nature experiences, and attachment to places are all aspects of HNC. The "embody paper" conceptualizes an embodied approach to HNC to overcome the barriers identified previously, and the "toolbox paper" operationalises it to develop a toolbox to assess children’s HNC and nature-connecting habitats. Answering RQ1, results show that children’s HNC is a complex set of embodied abilities. Human-nature relationships that could enable, promote, or assist sustainable development are a set of abilities that children can learn. These abilities are relationships between mind, body, culture, and environment, and progress following non-linear dynamics. This thesis identifies 10 of these abilities of HNC and finds that children learn them in three consecutive phases. Phase one – being in nature – includes feeling comfortable in natural spaces, and being curious about nature. Phase two – being with nature – includes reading natural spaces, acting in natural spaces, feeling attached to natural spaces, knowing about nature, and recalling memories with nature. Phase three – being for nature – includes taking care of nature, caring about nature, and being one with nature. Answering RQ2, two requirements of nature-connecting habitats are found: significant nature situations and various nature routines. Nature situations that can connect children to nature are characterised by configurations of 16 qualities – qualities of significant nature situations. These qualities are: entertainment, thought-provocation, awe, surprise, intimacy, mindfulness, self-restoration, creative expression, physical activity, challenge, engagement of senses, child-driven, involvement of mentors, structure/instructions, social/cultural endorsement, and involvement of animals. This set of qualities delineates the kinds of nature situations that nature-connecting habitats have to provide. These qualities should be various and recurring to allow children’s HNC to progress – hence, various nature routines. These lists of abilities and qualities form a toolbox capable of assessing where and how children connect to nature, named ACHUNAS. This thesis sets the stage to develop nature-connecting habitats. Children’s HNC and nature-connecting habitats are not the only intervention to promote sustainable futures, but they might be necessary conditions to meet the ever-shifting target of sustainable civilizations.
... Pada umumnya anak memberikan tanggapan positif pada tempat-tempat yang dianggap mereka khusus atau spesial (favorite places) (Chawla, 1992, Korpela, 2002, Elsley, 2004, Derr, 2006, Kytta, 2006 ...
... Panduan rancang taman lingkungan ini disusun dengan menggunakan kerangka 3 dimensi pembentuk place attachment (Scannell and Gifford, 2010) (Heft, 2010, Kytta, 2003, Kytta, 2006 ...
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Buku ini disusun dengan tujuan untuk memberikan rekomendasi dan daftar periksa panduan rancang yang dapat diterapkan dalam perencanaan dan perancangan taman lingkungan. Sasarannya adalah agar kehadiran taman lingkungan dapat memberikan manfaat bukan hanya sekedar memenuhi tujuan dan fungsi taman lingkungan sebagai ruang terbuka hijau. Namun, terlebih lagi dapat menjadikan taman lingkungan sebagai salah satu tempat favorit anak dan berdampak pada perkembangan rasa kelekatan anak. Hadirnya rasa kelekatan anak pada suatu tempat merupakan landasan penting bagi seorang anak untuk mengeksplorasi lingkungan rumah tinggalnya. Rasa kelekatan anak pada tempat juga berdampak positif pada perkembangan emosional dan kognitif, perkembangan personal, perkembangan akademik dan perkembangan kompetensi sosial, serta mendukung terbentuknya perilaku perlindungan lingkungan dan sense of place anak. Buku panduan rancang ini merupakan hasil penelitian dua tahun yang didanai oleh Kemenristekdikti melalui kontrak penelitian No.191/LPPM-UPH/VI/2017 dan No. 140/ LPPM-UPH/IV/2018. Buku panduan rancang ini diharapkan dapat menjadi rujukan dalam perencanaan dan perancangan taman lingkungan yang memberi perhatian pada perkembangan rasa kelekatan anak pada tempat.
... Recently, parental fears around "stranger danger" and other place-based risks have pervaded parental views of suburban life, and these have become significant in influencing the regulation of children's freedom (Malone 2007;Planning Institute of Australia 2007;Vichealth 2010). Building on this literature around children, mobility, and place encounters, the project this chapter focuses on drew on Kytta's (2006) positive cycles of mobility, access, and engagement along with Chawla's (2007) positive interactive cycles of accessibility, mobility, and engagement with the environment as shown in Fig. 1. ...
... These encounters will then shape their relations with the human and nonhuman world, therefore, building their sense of intimate attachment to place, their own role in noticing and attending to the specifics of place, and their growing desire to actively nurture their own relationship to place. Therefore, the central argument articulated by Kytta (2006) and Chawla (2007) draws on the important role of childhood experiences of place as a foundation for building children's environmental knowing of and social competence in places. ...
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... Crianças com acesso a ambientes naturais são estimuladas para uma vida social ativa e de grande mobilidade e destreza, pois tais ambientes proporcionam uma infinidade de affordances prontas para estimular os mais diversos encontros sensoriais e motores (Kyttä, 2002(Kyttä, , 2006Peres, 2013;Said, 2017). Atividades ao ar livre, com predominância de elementos naturais conferem, ainda, liberdade para a criança explorar e interagir com os elementos naturais, com pouca restrição e/ou supervisão de adultos. ...
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O foco desse estudo é contribuir para a compreensão da relação criança-ambiente, a partir do cotidiano vivido em uma comunidade da várzea no interior do Amazonas, que se distingue pela sazonalidade da cheia e vazante dos rios. Participaram do estudo 54 crianças, sendo 18 meninas e 36 meninos, com média de idade de 10 anos (dp: 2,5). A partir da análise de conteúdo dos dados obtidos em entrevista semiestruturada emergiram três categorias perceptivas do cotidiano: a categoria nomeada “singular”, manifestada em 40,7% das crianças, percebe o cotidiano permeado por atividades e vivências positivas. Na categoria “habitual”, o cotidiano é descrito como um lugar como qualquer outro para se viver, foi constatada por 37% das crianças. Na categoria “de diligência”, identificada em 22,2% das falas, ressalta-se vivências marcadas pelas demandas próprias de um ambiente de várzea. As diferentes percepções do cotidiano estão correlacionadas com a escolaridade e faixa etária.
... Functional possibilities, features, and limitations from the properties of the built environment specify a place's affordance (Gibson, 1979). The affordance of a place stems from an interaction between the characteristics of the built environment, and the individuals' characteristics, such as the physical dimensions and abilities, needs, awareness and intentions (Kyttä, 2006). ...
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Developing spatial and contextual knowledge on how children and caregivers use public space and services in disadvantaged areas in a city provides input for planning better spatial interventions and redevelopment schemes. By identifying daily routines and discussing the multifaceted nature and use of public spaces in different geographies we aim to contribute towards identifying resources that play an important role in supporting early urban childhoods. Unsurprisingly, the cultures of Istanbul and Pune, while very different from each other, the concerns of caregivers, complexity of their daily lives, levels of access and poverty, cultures of child rearing etc. determine the experience of urban child- hoods. Evidence from Pune (IN) and Istanbul (TR) provides contextual knowledge about the importance of community and communal trust, the commonalities as related to mothers staying at home with young children, wide range of caregivers, difficulty of navigating the urban environment with young children.
... Practitioners who allow children to take risks and tolerate scratches, wet shoes, muddy clothes and pockets full of sand, stones and whatever the children find and collect in the outdoor environment are enabling children to participate fully in their learning, to make meaning and experience negotiation within a community. Playing outside functions as a 'field of free action' (Kytta 2006) where children can make discoveries of their own, with no adults to tell them: 'Don't touch that' or 'Don't get dirty' (Chawla 2006, 68). Practitioners need to be aware of their own attitudes and consider what level of control they are taking; whether the practitioner or the child is in control of the action. ...
The burgeoning study of access to nature for public health and well-being is currently seeking to find doses of nature needed for different health benefits, including efficient cognitive processing. This information is important to guide clinical practice and the greening of schools and neighborhoods. Yet with children in particular, more is lost than gained by narrowing cognition to tests of attention, memory, and problem-solving, important as these dimensions of functioning may be. Given freedom in natural areas, children know nature with full-bodied physicality and emotion, often within social relationships. Using the framework of ecological psychology and supplementing it with other research perspectives, this chapter outlines different dimensions of knowing nature that can contribute to healthy development in childhood and adolescence. It suggests benefits that the natural world affords beyond opportunities that built environments provide, using the capabilities approach to human development, which includes having an influence over one’s environment and living in relationship with plants, animals, and the world of nature as dimensions of a fully realized life. The chapter concludes with examples of local and regional partnerships that give young people roles in regenerating natural areas and helping to define the types of nature spaces that meet their needs at different ages.
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We are all closely and in complex ways connected with our living environment, which influences in many ways our behaviour and learning as well. In this paper we take a socio-cultural perspective on education and learning and focus on a wider Swedish-speaking area (Ostrobothnia) in Finland. In previous analyses, reading literacy results of this particular area have been among the poorest in Finland on average. We examine the Swedish-language minority schools in Finland that participated in the PISA 2009 assessment with a larger than normal sample size. This paper analyses the test results for Ostrobothnian Swedish-language schools in terms of students reading, mathematical, and scientific literacy and family background, seeking to shed light on the phenomenon with the help of the kriging method and social capital framework.
Many international studies have highlighted reduced opportunities for young children’s risk-taking and associated physical activity in home, neighbourhood, and early childhood education contexts. At the same time parents and educators express positive attitudes towards children’s engagement in challenging, physically active play. In the early childhood education context, the mismatch between expressed intentions of educators and what happens in the outdoor environment is attributable to a number of factors, including the difficulties that educators experience in theorising about the outdoors. In this chapter we examine the current status of physically active play in Early Childhood Education settings. We then consider contemporary approaches to affordance theory, with a particular emphasis on the contributions of E.J. Gibson, J.J. Gibson, Heft and Kyttä. We argue that affordance theory provides an important approach for active play research and pedagogy.
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The Finnish innovation SoftGIS refers to a collection of Internet-based surveys which allow the locality-based study of human experiences and everyday behavior. SoftGIS methodology refers not only to a whole set of individual SoftGIS methods, but also to the special collection of theories, concepts and ideas behind their development. The first SoftGIS methods were published in 2005, based on open-source technology. After technical difficulties concerning capacity, effectiveness and maintenance of applications, the technological basis of the methodology was developed further. When dealing with sensitive data such as that acquired by SoftGIS, established scientific ethical principles have to be followed. Data are generally always aggregated, so that individual respondents cannot be identified. With the help of GIS techniques, the perceptions of residents can be combined and analyzed alongside information concerning the physical structure of a city.
The Child Friendly City (CFC) is a concept for making cities friendly for all children especially in UN member countries that have ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), and abide by other international policy instruments such as the Agenda 21 and the Habitat Agenda, through municipal action. This idea is particularly important for improving the quality of living conditions of poor urban children who are most affected by sweeping changes brought about by globalization and rapid urbanization in the developing nations of the global South. However, there is no theoretical, and little empirical understanding of environmental child friendliness as a construct, thus making it difficult to create operational measures of child friendly environments. My dissertation had two main goals: 1) developing conceptual clarity on the much-used terms “child friendly environment” and “child friendly city”, from the physical environment standpoint, and 2) understanding the meaning of environmental child friendliness from the perspective of children who actively engage with the physical environment of a local area. The central hypothesis of my dissertation was that from an Environment-Behavior perspective, a child friendly city can only be studied as a disaggregation, made up of numerous and interlocking child friendly places with which children engage and develop emotional and affective bonds through exploration in the everyday environments of neighborhoods and cities. These child friendly places support the six dimensions of place friendship in different ways: care and respect for places, meaningful exchange with places, learning and competence through place experience, creating and controlling territories, having secret places, and freedom of expression in places. Based on my empirical study in India to test this framework, using analytic ethnography as the research methodology, I concluded that It may be possible to develop a generic typology of child friendly places based on the four collapsed dimensions of place friendship such as “places that children care for”, “places that children learn from”, “places that children create through action”, and “places that nurture children’s secrets.” At a more conceptual level, these four types of child friendly places when viewed through adult lens are indeed in the best interests of children due to their developmental, psychological, health and educational benefits. If we can include many of these kinds of places in the planning and design of urban neighborhoods as a network of accessible places for children to utilize their affordances of place friendship, we may be able to create child friendly cities that are built up one neighborhood at a time while also providing possibilities of sharing the child friendly resources in each of them within the wider local area. This place-based model of child friendly cities is more hands-on and connects structural concerns with agency of children in shaping the socio-physical environment of cities. This may be a way forward to conceptualize child friendly cities in any living context in the world, by thinking global and acting local and in doing so address both developmental and existential needs of children in child friendly local urban environments.
The environment surrounding us sends strong messages about how to behave and what to perceive. Planners and decision-makers play a key role in constructing these messages, and therefore help determine how people view and interact with the world. As a result, the living environment and its associated messages can greatly influence the physical, social and mental health of all residents. Since children are just learning about the world, their living environment will profoundly influence almost all aspects of their lives. This puts a great deal of responsibility on the shoulders of planners, who need to balance a number of different issues in urban design to make places more child-friendly. Four major issues that are critical to the creation and maintenance of a child-friendly community are: safety, greenspace, access and integration. The benefits of child-friendly community design range from the promotion of healthier lifestyles, to Improving the quality of social interactions to the long-term sustainability of natural spaces. The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) program Child Friendly Cities promotes child-friendly community design and inclusive decision-making. Waterloo, Ontario, a mid-sized Canadian city, has many positive and community-oriented attributes, but could benefit greatly from incorporating child-friendly design procedures and participatory decision-making. Uenvironnement dans lequel on vit influence nos comportements et nos perceptions, par les messages qu'il nous transmet. Les planificateurs et les dé-cideurs jouent un rôle capital dans la construction de ces messages qui, par conséquent, déterminent la manière dont les gens perçoivent le monde et comment ils y interagis-sent. C'est pourquoi Ľenvironnement de vie et les messages qui y sont associés peuvent influer grandement sur la santé physique, sociale et mentale de tous les citoyens. Puisque les enfants apprennent tout juste à connaître le monde, leur environnement de vie aura une incidence pro-fonde sur la plupart des aspects de leur vie. Cela met une lourde responsabilité sur les épaules des planificateurs, qui doivent équilibrer bon nombre d'enjeux différents en matière de design d'environnement pour rendre les espaces de vie plus conviviaux pour les enfants. Les quatre en- jeux les plus essentielles à la création et au maintien de collectivités favorables aux enfants sont la sécurité, les espaces verts, Ľaccès et Ľintégration. Les bien-faits de la conception de collectivités accueillantes pour les enfants vont de la promotion de modes de vie plus sains à Ľamélioration des interactions sociales, en passant par la durabilité à long terme des espaces naturels. Le programme Villes adaptées aux enfants du Fonds des Nations Unies pour Ľenfance (UNI-CEF) fait la promotion de Ľaménagement de collectivités accueillantes pour les enfants et ďune prise de décision inclusive. La ville de Waterloo, en Ontario, une ville canadienne de taille moyenne, possède de nombreuses caractéristiques positives et axées sur la collectivité, mais elle pourrait grandement profiter de procédures ďintégration ďun design adapté aux enfants et de prise de décision participative.
In our fast-changing urban world, the impacts of social and environmental change on children are often overlooked. Children and their Urban Environment examines these impacts in detail, looking at the key activities, spaces and experiences children have and how these can be managed to ensure that children benefit from change. The authors highlight the importance of planners, architects and housing professionals in creating positive environments for children and involving them in the planning process. They argue that children?s lives are becoming simultaneously both richer and more deprived, and that, despite apparently increasing wealth, disparities between children are increasing further. Each chapter includes international examples of good practice and policy innovations for redressing the balance in favour of child supportive environments. The book seeks to embrace childhood as a time of freedom, social engagement and environmental adventure and to encourage creation of environments that better meet the needs of children. The authors argue that in doing so, we will build more sustainable neighbourhoods, cities and societies for the future.