Playfinding: child-friendly wayfinding as a tool for children’s independent mobility in the Exchange District of Winnipeg, Manitoba

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Segal, Ryan
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As children’s independent mobility in urban environments continues to decrease, children become further removed from all realms of city life. There is a need for children to practice and demonstrate their autonomy in public, and a properly planned and designed environment can support such skill building in urban settings. This practicum envisions wayfinding as a pivotal intervention in the urban environment to enable children’s independent mobility and environmental familiarity. The research focuses on the planning of a wayfinding strategy for Canadian school-age children (ages 8-10) as a way to encourage independent mobility in an urban context. This research is based on a review of children’s wayfinding psychology and planning strategies, inspiring design precedents, a detailed site audit and hands-on mental mapping exercises with children. The result is a set of research, consultation, planning, policy, and design recommendations to develop a child-friendly wayfinding strategy in the Exchange District neighbourhood of Downtown Winnipeg, Manitoba.
Wayfinding, Children, Independent mobility, Signage, Mental maps, Urban planning, Urban design, City planning, Winnipeg, Downtown, Exchange District