Children have their online say on design of Belgian city playground

Image: European Union NLAB4CIT

A digital platform popular with children for creating ‘virtual’ worlds’ is being employed by a Belgian city to redesign a playground.

Roblox is a hugely successful application, with more than 40 million users – many of whom are children and teenagers – who generate their own experiences, play games, socialise and construct their own ‘world’.

And now the city of Roeselare is creating a virtual playspace within Roblox, which enables children to have their input on the project for a new play area. City leaders will use digital technology to ‘democratise’ the creation of the playground at Pastoorsbos, which will be renovated next year.

‘Democratise the creation of a playground’

But what the authorities do not yet have is a clear plan for the redevelopment work and final layout, which is where the city’s young people come in. “What they plan to do is give that over to local children, who will Roblox,” says the report.

This innovative project is being done with the help of Howest University of Applied Sciences, which is known for its technical expertise, under the banner of the European Union-funded NLAB4CIT programme, which brings together a collection of cities to work together for technical solutions.

Children playing ‘inside’ the game and working in groups, will have a fictional budget and pick out their favourite outdoor play equipment from a drop-down menu and place it where they like it.

Roman Cluytens, writing on the NLAB4CIT blog, says: “In the final design of Pastoorsbos, the city aims to realise the wishes of the youth as much as possible. Throughout..March, several participation moments will be organised together with the local youth movements.”

Author: Simon Weedy

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