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Exploring Youth-Friendly Design: Creating Spaces for the Next Generation

Understanding the concept of youth-friendly design is crucial for architects, designers, planners, managers, educators, and anyone who wants to create spaces or experiences that resonate with the younger generation. Youth-friendly design is all about ensuring that the environments and products we create are not only safe and functional but also appealing, accessible, well-resourced, and, most importantly, youth-friendly. ReVision is on a mission to do this nationwide after having successfully piloted our youth-friendly audits in the Christchurch region. We have developed a set of 5 principles of our own based on CPTED (Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design) principles.

What is Youth-Friendly Design?

Youth-friendly design is an innovative approach that puts young people at the center of the design and planning process. It aims to create spaces and experiences that meet the unique needs and preferences of young people, typically aged 10 to 24. Our philosophy recognises that the world is evolving and young people play a crucial role in shaping the future. Therefore, it's essential to consider their perspectives, desires, and requirements when designing anything for them.

ReVision’s Five Principles of Youth-Friendly Design

To better understand the concept, let's delve into the five key principles that define youth-friendly design according to us:

1. Safety

Safety is paramount when designing for young people. The first and foremost consideration is to ensure physical space avoids any risks to their well-being. This includes measures to prevent accidents, protect against potential hazards, and provide a secure environment where young people can thrive and be themselves. We strongly consider the visibility and location of an area to evaluate our safety standard.

2. Appeal

Youth-friendly design should be visually appealing and engaging. We find that young people are drawn to designs that are vibrant, creative, and in line with current trends. By incorporating elements that resonate with their tastes and preferences, such as purpose-built furniture or ensuring things are within arm’s reach, you can make spaces and places more attractive to them and encourage a true connection with space.

3. Accessibility

Accessibility is another critical aspect of youth-friendly design. This involves making sure that spaces and products are easily accessible to young people with diverse abilities and needs. This includes considerations for physical accessibility, as well as digital accessibility of websites or apps they need to use within a space. Financial accessibility is also a strong consideration by our Team Leaders and volunteers.

4. Well-Resourced

To create a youth-friendly environment, it's essential to provide the necessary resources and amenities. Whether it's educational materials, recreational facilities, or technology infrastructure, having access to these resources empowers young people and enhances their experiences. Free wifi, multi-use spaces, and low/affordable costs are strongly considering when performing audits.

5. Youth-Friendliness

The ultimate goal of youth-friendly design is to create spaces and products where young people feel comfortable, valued, and included. Vibrant and active environments, full of colour, and reflective of the young people it serves is paramount. This goes beyond aesthetics and functionality; it's about fostering an environment where young people can express themselves, learn, and grow.

Youth-friendly design is an approach that recognises the importance of considering young people's perspectives and needs in the design process and beyond. It allows young people to feel a true connection to their environment and homes. By adhering to the principles of safety, appeal, accessibility, being well-resourced, and creating a youth-friendly atmosphere, designers and creators can ensure that their work resonates with the next generation. This not only benefits young people but also contributes to the overall vitality and inclusivity of our communities and cities. We hope you’ll consider these principles in any new build or space you design. If you know any location that could use a youth-friendly audit, let us know! We’re happy to have a chat about making the possible.

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