Often a modern residential development home is thought of as comprising functional and recreational amenities and homes with optimally utilized spaces spruced up with smart décor and new age materials. Indeed, to cater to the generation next buyers, developers are now offering residential developments in keeping with the convenient living demands. What is also emerging is the new trend of designing child friendly housing, explains Kaizad Hateria, GM, Corporate Customer Relations & Asset Class Specialist at Rustomjee Group who are incorporating the same in their residential projects.
Have you ever knelt down and looked around through the eyes of the child? You might discover the biggest threats to their safety and well-being — right in their own home. We may be surprised at how many things suddenly pose a threat to their safety. Be the sharp edges of the rooms, bare electrical wires and sockets within the easy reach of little fingers or toxic finishing paints, polishes, floors etc. Further on, buildings need to be designed such, to offer safety while using common corridors, staircase and elevators as also provide easy access to outdoors. Safe, uninhibited outside play areas, communal territories, easy parental supervision are all essential for the physiological and mental health of children.
A child friendly design constitutes housing units with adequate living space free from physical dangers and environment around house safe from traffic, pollution, and unnecessary social hazards.
Following simple precautionary measures like having stable and balanced furniture for toddler’s to lean on, installing grills on the balconies, fully covered sockets, or simply lowering or raising the kitchen counters would definitely reduce the risks and dangers that a child might encounter at home. Simple design ideas would help in shifting the perception of the residential township from a “adult housing” to a kid’s friendly neighbourhood. Experts say there are many benefits to an environment where children are welcome. There is the likelihood that the child who is free to explore will become more alert, self-sufficient, and content to play alone than a one restricted to cramped and supervised spaces. Some of the design elements of child friendly housing developments are:
- Provide places where residents/children can intermingle on a casual basis. For example by planning building entries around a common court or a common pedestrian open space to enhance the potential for neighborly social contact.
- Children, like adults, often need to retreat from the social environment. Stagger windows and buildings to foster privacy. Separate units through screening with architectural and landscape elements.
- Use of elevators with sensors placed at the bottom of every lift will ensure that it senses the presence of a child and hence the doors of the lift will be prevented from closing in onto kids and causing then serious injuries.
- The location of the play areas should be near, in and around the central part of the development so that children are secure and less isolated from their parents.
- Provide seating areas in outdoor spaces that can serve a range of types of users from teens to elderly residents enhance mental and social growth.
- Carving out areas at the podium level and declaring it to be traffic free would let the children roam, play or do the things they enjoy.
- Simple play area’s will entertain children for less time, whereas a more complex type of play area will allow for a longer continuous amount of play.
- Simple play units play equipment like swings, balancing beam and jungle gym etc. Complex play units have sub-parts or juxtaposition of two essentially different play materials which enable the child to manipulate or improvise, such as a sand table or a play house.
- Over & above all this, in larger complexes, cricket pitches, tennis courts, giant sized chess boards can be designed to bring out the resident children sporting spirits.
- Protective surfacing under and around playground equipment can reduce the severity of and even prevent playground fall-related injuries.
- It is important to ensure the height of a kiddie’s pool is correct. A play pool can be one and a half feet to two feet deep and for a higher age group can touch a depth of four feet or five feet.
- A creative architecture will accommodate different activities for different users. Such as by dividing space into activity zones that allow different user groups (small children, older children and adults) to pursue differing activities, while minimizing conflicts.
- Private balcony/porch/yard provide a needed outdoor space for activities. Entry areas adjacent to the kitchen serve as play areas for toddlers because they are easy to supervise.
- Provide an acoustically controlled environment in relation to exterior noise and noise from adjacent living units and public spaces.
- In order to ensure child accessibility, the design must adequately compensate for height restrictions of the child. Child friendly design encourages independence and the development of gross motor skills.
- The scale and positioning of various fixtures in the home should be carefully considered, such as adjustable bathroom fittings for access, safety and play and light switches in close proximity to beds.
- Advanced sockets have built-in automatic shutters to stop children sticking their fingers or other objects into them. Using shock proof switches/sockets in all electrical outlets and sockets will prevent the risk of any electrical hazard in the house.
- Kitchen obviously is the heart of a home and also the area where designers have to be extra careful. Provision of smoke alarm and extinguisher on hand is very essential.
- Use soundproofing materials, especially in multifamily homes to help children concentrate on studies or play activities when indoors.
- The flooring need to have a good grip for kids to walk on, run or move around safely in the house and outside. Use of anti-skid tiles can reduce the risk and dangers of slips and falls and the resultant potential of a kid’s injury.
- Many a time, sharp corners injure kids moving in and around the house. Making the corners rounded certainly is an innovation that can be adapted while designing a child friendly housing.
- Paints play a very important role in creating the look and feel of the house. Anti-fungal paints are low on VOC emissions. Use of the paint in exterior also helps in controlling the temperature and cooling the interiors of a house.