My doctoral research focuses on play opportunities for young children from middle-class families living in high-rise housing environments in Pune metropolis, India.
Despite the recognition of play as a fundamental right (Article 31 of the UNCRC), recent scholarship highlights social challenges and barriers in the physical environment to fulfilling children’s play in urban areas. This includes the lack of awareness about the value of play, inadequate opportunities for child-controlled play, pressure on children for educational achievement, structured leisure time, poor material conditions, inadequate space for play, particularly green spaces, negative effects of technology and the lack of children’s participation in planning for play (IPA, 2016; IPA, 2013).
I position my work within Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological model of human development (1994), recognizing the social (parents’ play values, beliefs and play management practices) and physical environment (spatial design and material conditions) as influencers of young children’s play. In major cities across the world including many Indian cities, there is a trend towards building high-rise housing developments for all demographic groups (low, middle and high-income groups) but there is not much clarity on how to design and build environments that are supportive of young children’s needs.
Accordingly, my dissertation aims: (1) To educate planning and design professionals, city planning professionals and parents of young children about a range of play opportunities that are appropriate for young children’s growth and development; (b) To inform design and city planning professionals for re-thinking and bringing change to the current state of play opportunities that are available for young children living in high-rise apartments; and (c) To provide specific design related recommendations to improve environmental features of high-rise housing developments to support young children’s play.
IPA. (2016). Children’s right to play and the environment. International Play Association World.
IPA. (2013). United Nations General Comment no. 17. International Play Association World.
Bronfenbrenner, U. (1994). Ecological models of human development. In International Encylopedia of Education (2nd ed., Vol. 3). Oxford: Elsevier.