Marianne van Lier, biologist (Rotterdam, 1952) and Willy Leufgen , social pedagogue (Cologne, 1953). Together with others thy founded Stichting (=Foundation) Oase in 1993. This network organization wants to bring together all people that are involved in wild, natural gardening; amateurs and professionals. It started with a periodical (“Oase”, from 1991) and excursions to natural gardens inside and outside the Netherlands. In 1994, 1995 and 2001 three new networks were more or less organically born out of Stichting Oase, to know: Wilde Weelde (professional ecological gardeners, designers etc.), Vakgroep Heemtuinbeheer (professional and amateur garden managers); and Springzaad (mostly professionals engaged with play nature and green schoolyards, since 2014 an independent foundation). The under title of this movement runs as follows: More space for nature and children. In 2006 we took the initiative for a new 2 year long training meant for people who want to specialize themselves as ecological gardener (green schoolyards are a growing issue in the course). In 2016, after 6 successful editions in the Netherlands, a similar training was developed in Belgium together with our Flemish colleagues and started in march 2017.
Lois Brink is professor at the University of Colorado in Denver (UCD), USA. Learning Landscapes have been her primary research during the past ten years. This current research is threefold: 1) design and construct environments that contain a range of opportunities or affordances for healthy living; 2) empower children and communities through programs for after-school activities, community organizing, healthy eating and active living; and 3) evaluate and research in a comprehensive manner.
Learning Landscapes have helped Denver Public Schools with fundraising, designed and constructed nearly a hundred schoolyards in Denver and currently have a National Institutes of Health grant to study the effects of schoolyards on children’s physical activity levels.
Prior to joining UCD, Lois spent ten years in private practice in Philadelphia and Denver.
Dr. Hartmut Wedekind is professor of early childhood education and didactics with emphasis on the natural sciences, mathematics and technology at the Alice Salomon University Berlin.
His interest are, among other things, the participation of children in educational institutions and in municipalities, the play pedagogy; in particular, play learning in the field of natural science and mathematical education, as well as the learning and teaching formats in the context of working in workshops and the natural science education in the context of workshop learning.
He is the scientific director of the children’s research center HELLEUM and currently supervises three projects. These projects deal with the issue of natural/science education: a project that involves science education in the context of working in workshops in schools and day care centers in the district of Marzahn-Hellersdorf, an offer for mobile studying workshops for primary schools and day care centers (Helle und Leum Tüfteltruhen) and the children’s research center HELLEUM.
Dr. Matluba Khan is interested in built-environment research particularly the impact of school ground design on pedagogy and play. Her research experience includes studies on the outdoor learning environment of children at primary schools and urban residential areas in the context of Bangladesh and Scotland. Matluba’s PhD thesis explored the relationship between school ground design and children’s learning and their motivation to come to school. She co-designed and developed schoolyards in Bangladesh engaging the children, teachers and the community as part of her research and evaluated the impact on the design on their learning and motivation. Her co-designed schoolyard has won the Great Places Award in Place Design category by the Environmental Design Research Association (EDRA) in 2016. She also ran workshops with teachers and trainee teachers on the role of school environment for learning and engaged children in several workshops for co-creation of outdoor environments. Matluba has been tutoring in Architecture and Landscape Architecture in the University of Edinburgh at undergraduate and postgraduate levels since 2015. Before embarking on her PhD in the UK she held a position of Assistant Professor in the Department of Architecture in Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET), Dhaka. She completed her B.Arch and M.Arch degrees from the same institute respectively in 2009 and 2012 awarded with Shamsunnahar Khan Memorial Gold Medal and Anisur Rahman Gold Medal.
Silke Wissel is team leader urban nature of Deutsche Umwelthilfe (Environmental Action Germany), an organisation promoting protection of the environment, nature and consumers. The yourSchoolyard initiative is a joint project of Environmental Action Germany and the Vibrant City Foundation and has had more than 1,000 participating schools across Germany.
Gerhard Fuchs is a board member of the Vibrant City Foundation and former state councilor for urban development and environment in the Federal State of Hamburg. Prof. Dr. Dittmar Machule is also a board member as well as a professor emeritus for urban development who focused on city, environment and technique at the Technical University of Hamburg-Harburg.
Ko is Assistant Professor in Living Environment Studies and Children’s Environment, and school grounds researcher / designer at Tsurumi Junior College, Dept. of Early Childhood Care and Education in Yokohama, Japan. He received his professional training in Japan and England studying approaches to outdoor learning and play, receiving his PhD on research of primary school grounds design and use.
Ko has been teaching about living environments studies and children’s environment as a full time lecturer and school ground designer in Japan for more than 15 years. He specializes in making vibrant play environments for urban children that combine indoor and outdoor experiences. Ko’s work includes more than forty kindergarten and day nurseries school grounds design projects for attractive and diverse children’s learning, play and well-being.
Laís Fleury is one of the Director of Alana Institute, a non-profit organization that has a solid and broad work related with childhood in Brazil, and coordinates its Children and Nature project. She founded Associação Vaga Lume, a non-profit organization that develops education and culture projects in the Brazilian Amazon region, and got recognized as a social entrepreneur by Ashoka since 2003.
Holger Hofmann is managing director of the Deutsches Kinderhilfswerk (Children’s Charity of Germany). He is responsible for programmatic activities of the national lobbying and donation organization including fields of work such as children’s rights, children policy, child poverty, child-friendly urban development and media literacy of children. The main areas of his work are child-friendly urban development and the realization of the right to play. Holger Hofmann is member of the German section of the IPA (International Play Association).
Eva van Bolderen comes from IUG (Innovative Urban Green) a landscape design company based in Shanghai. They do partly projects and research (in collaboration with Tongji University Shanghai) on children’s playgrounds, educational roof gardens and child friendly communities in China. A small selection of the projects in China they would like to share at the conference.
Rice garden is a project in the agricultural area in Shanghai. A landscape architect and architect from Shanghai initiated this place. They wanted their son not only to grow up in Shanghai’s urban jungle, but also be in touch with nature and give other children the same opportunity. This project is on one hand a holiday residence for families to spend time in the countryside. On the other hand a place for children to experience more about rural life and local flora and fauna. Schools can visit to learn more about growing crops and of course playing in nature. Every year there is the Rice garden event, where a labyrinth is created in the rice field, where children can hide, stay, play between the rice crops.
The second project is a research on child friendly communities. Nowadays, increasing numbers of children are growing up in cities, as is the case in China. But in design processes the children are often forgotten. In the densely populated cities this affects the development of children. Playgrounds are scarce, are often not very inviting to play and without greenery. Therefore, we are currently developing guidelines for child friendly design of neighborhoods. This research looks at international trends to learn from foreign best practices; Case studies to finally provide guidelines that for example take into account infrastructure, green, play opportunities and safety for future design of communities.