Designing modern childhoods
Conference explores architecture, design from kids’ perspectives

By Kathleen Maclay, Public Affairs


Photo courtesy of the LEGO Group

01 May 2002 | Places and objects designed for or used by the young — from parks and schools to Lego bricks and teen hangouts — will be explored in an international conference on campus this weekend.

Architects, landscape architects, urban planners, historians, sociologists, environmental psychologists, folklorists and geographers gather May 2 and 3 for a first-of-a-kind international and interdisciplinary conference, “Designing Modern Childhoods: Landscapes, Buildings and Material Culture.”

Marta Gutman, architect and historian, and Ning de Coninck-Smith, cultural historian from Southern Denmark University, Odense, organized the free public event to promote conversation about the design, construction, use and analysis of children’s spaces and materials.

“This exciting conference will bring adult perspectives on childhoods together with the views of children themselves,” said Barrie Thorne, professor of sociology and women’s studies and director of the Berkeley Center for Working Families.

“It is essential that we bring together scholars from various fields to see just how much we know about children, past and present,” said History Professor Paula Fass. “By situating children fully in their material environments, architects, designers and scholars will learn and share new research and reinforce our commitment to children’s studies.”

Keynote addresses on Thursday and Friday will include historian Gary Cross, speaking on “American Ad Images and the Origins of Commercialized Childhood;” architect and historian Anne-Marie Châtelet, on cutting-edge school design in France; and environmental psychologist Roger Hart, speaking on the design of places according to different ideas about children and child rearing.

In conjunction with the conference, a photo exhibit on public parks, “Making Spaces for Small and Young Children to Play,” will be on display during the meeting at the International House auditorium. Participants may also take a self-guided tour of innovative playgrounds in the San Francisco Bay Area.

The conference is open to the public; registration is required. Click on link below for more information.


Registration information


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