Meet This Unique Child-Friendly City

Recreating a city through a child-centered lens.

Meet This Unique Child-Friendly City | Recreating a city through a child-centered lens.

In the city that LEGO built, children are helping to recreate it as a better place for them to live. From designing  playgrounds to weighing in on safety matters, the city's youth are helping to make Billund, Denmark a child-friendly place to visit and to reside.

Young dreamers are encouraged to submit their ideas, according to National Geographic, and they are well received. Incorporating these ideas have reverberated well with locals and tourists. Over two million tourists visit Legoland every year and the municipality wants travelers to see that the commitment to families is bigger than just LEGO bricks.

“We know from surveys that an increasing [number] of tourists expect to learn from their holidays. We deliver on that promise, whether you visit Lego House and ‘learn through play’ or you’re inspired by how we’ve worked with our urban space,” current Billund mayor Stephanie Storbank told National Geographic.

Child Friendly City
The city’s partnership with its youth earned it the designation of a UNICEF Child Friendly City. Billund is the first Danish city to enjoy this distinction. The initiative supports municipalities recognizing the rights of children using the UNICEF convention of the rights of the child as a guide. There are over a thousand cities in the world that have this designation.

Billund saw this as a stamp of approval on the vision to empower local youth to create a community that is designed for and by children, according to National Geographic.

In 2018, the city asked Urgent Agency and Bjanke Ingels Group (BIG) to complete a vision and strategy document and master plan on how to reimagine itself as a playful city. The presentation was given at Nordic Urban Lab:2018 and published in Metropolis.

While the project has not been fully implemented, many new initiatives have made Billund, a much more child-friendly city including The Playline, a community designed route through the city that offers safe walking, bike riding, and wheelchair passage. Another city initiative that builds community is the Wow Park that is an all-natural play space, according to National Geographic. 

Capital of Children
Billund takes the vision of recreating itself through a child-friendly lens seriously. This novel approach to city planning is part of the Capital of Children, a partnership that was formed with the LEGO Foundation that now includes 11 other partners.

“We invite [children] to meet with the architects, urban designers, [and] politicians. And then we allow them to follow the process through to implementation,” Charlotte Sahl-Madsen, CEO of Capital of Children told National Geographic. “These children will have to solve problems in the future, and we need to inspire them now to do that.”

Daniel Trangeled, 15, said that this inclusion made him feel valued knowing, “that any one kid — that me, even as a person who is under 18 — can be part of a difference here.” And that can make a major difference for the future of Billund and the world.

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