Guideline to promote a child-friendly city development

  • Posted on: 22 August 2017
  • By: Barbara Kieser


Neighbourhoods and cities are usually planned from a grown-up’s perspective. Children have different needs towards their surroundings. The guideline “Auf Augenhöhe 1,20m” (“at eye level 1,20m”, i.e. at a child’s eye level) developed by the canton Basel-Stadt provides inputs for the conception, planning, implementation and operating of child-friendly spaces in the children’s living environment.


A 9-year-old child is on average 1,20m tall. At this eye level, the world looks a lot different than from a grown-up’s perspective. Children have special requirements towards public and private spaces. Their surroundings have to be welcoming, save and secure, they have to offer space to play and move around and places where children can meet and spend time together (also without supervision of parents or teachers). These requirements are important for the physical, cognitive and emotional development of a child. Yet today, many neighbourhoods are still planned to the liking of grown-ups and car-owners and offer few or no child-friendly spaces.

Transformational Measures and Activities

The canton Basel-Stadt in the north of Switzerland wanted to change this and developed a guideline to promote a child-friendly city development. The guideline defines eight principles that should be aimed at when developing a neighbourhood in a child-friendly way (e.g. child-friendly neighbourhood should offer possibilities for social interactions and for nature experiences, they should be save and easy to reach, they should be developed with the participation of children…). The guideline then describes five project phases (define, design, build, run, control) and how the needs of children and the eight principles can be taken into account in these phases. The guideline also provides several best practices, a checklist and a questionnaire that help develop a neighbourhood in a child-friendly way.

The guideline addresses the responsible persons in municipalities for neighbourhood developments and helps them to recognise the needs of children in their daily work. The guideline is not legally binding for the cantonal and communal administrations, but they are encouraged to use it and were trained to use it in workshops.


The guideline was well-received in the cantonal and communal administrations and is in use. The initial guideline from 2009 was revised in 2014.

Challenges, Opportunities and Transferability

To develop a relevant and practical guideline is time-consuming and requires funds. It is crucial to involve all departments that are affected (e.g. in Basel: departments of city planning, construction and transport, education, finance, justice and security). Wherever possible, children should be involved in the development.

In Depth

The guideline, the checklist and the questionnaire can be downloaded here (only in German):