Journal of Civil Engineering and Urbanism  
Volume 8, Issue 1: 06-11; Jan 25, 2018  
Operative Guidelines for Sustainable Designing of Child-  
Oriented Architectural Spaces  
Mina Khodadad1, Seyyed Moein Moosavi Nadoshan2, Solmaz Khodadad3, Mohsen Sanei1  
1M.Sc., Dept. of Architecture and Urban Studies, Politecnico di Milano University, Milan, Italy  
2Faculty Member, Dept. of Civil Eng. and Architecture, Shahid Chamran Faculty of Kerman, Technical and Vocational University, Iran  
3M.Sc. Graduate Student, Dept. of Architecture, Islamic Azad University of Tabriz, Tabriz, Iran  
Corresponding author’s email:  
ABSTRACT: Paying attention to children space has long been important. A large number of researchers have dealt  
to it, whether in science of psychology and sociology or in the field of architecture. According to the needs of the  
Received 19 Dec. 2017  
Accepted 15 Jan. 2018  
community and audiences, science of architecture always has seek creative ways to optimize the space for contacts  
in different fields, such as child-oriented spaces. It has been done with regard to the consideration of human needs  
and the importance of user’s behavior in achieving the goals of sustainable architecture. In addition, according to  
the theories of psychology, considering the importance of childhood, as one of the most important periods of human  
life, is so imperative. Therefore, designing a sustainable environment for children is an element, which requires  
further discussions, and it is necessary to contemplate psychological aspects and behaviors, related to a sustainable  
approach. In this context, it should be taken into consideration that what the principles of a sustainable design for  
children are, and, basically, how sustainable environment’s definition for the children should be. In this paper, the  
main effort is to take a step towards sustainable development by raising a discussion of child spaces with a  
sustainable development approach, and giving a physical dimension to the sustainable development indicators in the  
areas of children's centers. The research is a descriptive-analytic study, with use of library research method for data  
collecting, linked with the different categories of sustainability, architecture and psychology. As results, there are  
some suggested practical solutions to develop physical patterns for designing sustainable children's spaces, each of  
which could be a field for deeper qualitative and quantitative analysis in future studies.  
Key words: Child-Oriented Space, Sustainable Environment, Sustainable Development.  
Children, because of their physical and mental  
concerning the urban context (Joss, 2015). [This  
expression], as a defined term, is application of  
sustainability and resilient principles to the design,  
planning, and administration / operation of cities (Sharifi,  
2016). Sustainability factors in urban contexts and  
architecture helps children to understand the importance  
of environment, energy and resources, and unconsciously,  
it learns them to take creative steps to conserve resources  
and their environment. Children obtain information about  
environment and interact socially as a result of their  
experiences in the physical environment (Acar, 2013).  
They are the most sensitive and affected age group of the  
society. They need to experience social life in their own  
scale in most sensitive and important years of their lives;  
that means the period, in which their foundations of  
personal, physical, mental and social growth forms, until  
they enter the city. This requires the availability of a  
childish and intimate space, a space away from the  
limitations, are more impressible, and instead, they have  
lower impacts on the environment compared to adults;  
thus, they are more subordinates of environmental  
conditions. Barker, founder of “ecological psychology”  
believes there is a specific relationship between physical  
aspects of architecture and behavior of physical-behavior  
stations, which expresses them with the same concepts  
(Mortazavi, 2001; Young, 1990). In all alive creatures and  
according to the law of affecting and to be affected in the  
environment, the tendency to compromise the  
environment is available, so that child tries to compromise  
with the environment in which they live (Anbari and  
Soltanzadeh, 2015).  
Sustainable urbanism engages with various aspects  
of environmental, economic, and social sustainability  
To cite this paper: Khodadad M, Moosavi Nadoshan SM, Khodadad S, Sanei M (2018). Operative Guidelines for Sustainable Designing of Child-Oriented Architectural  
Spaces. J. Civil Eng. Urban., 8 (1): 06-11.  
commotion of the larger world, a place that provides  
context for children's creativity, a world full of joy with  
beautiful colors, where the child has the opportunity to  
express his new ideas, and breed and grow his talents.  
In designing of child spaces, child-centered designs  
have priority. This means that the spaces should be  
designed for temporary holding of children and this space  
and all the equipment and facilities should be appropriate  
for them. A children space should have an exclusive  
design to meet their needs, particularly in interior design  
and furniture. Environment is a trainer, and after  
children’s parents, it is their first teacher. Children’s  
pedagogy is transferred through forms, which are made by  
architecture and their surrounding environment.  
Sustainable design of children spaces locates in a high  
degree of importance, because children interact inside and  
learn from architecture and the space.  
on the exciting environment, creating the necessary  
conditions for the emotional bond between children in that  
environment, expanding their social relationships and  
creating a vibrant environment requires attention to the  
views of children, as well as quantitative and qualitative  
criteria and standards related to space.  
Sustainability concept  
It is not possible to make an exact definition of  
sustainability in architecture. It is known that this concept,  
which had been scrutinized with reference to different  
priorities in every different period, has been discussed  
under various titles since the 1970s. For instance, while  
the concept “environmental design” was used in 1970s,  
“green design” in 1980s, “ecological design” in the late  
1980s and in 1990s, the concept “sustainable design” has  
started to be used since mid-1990s (Arslan, 2008).  
During this descriptive-analytic research, which is  
done by library research method, first, definitions of a  
child space and sustainability, and the necessity and aims  
of designing sustainable spaces for children are explained.  
Then, after describing two study cases, some solutions for  
designing sustainable children spaces are suggested, as the  
outcomes of the study. The aim of this study is to offer  
some practical design features, which are beneficial in  
order to have more efficient child-oriented spaces.  
Sustainable architecture can be considered as one of  
contemporary critical events, a subset of sustainable  
designing, which is a wise reaction against industry era  
issues and problems (Sanei et al., 2017). Sustainable  
architecture defines an understanding of environment-  
friendly architecture under all classifications, and contains  
some universal consent. In general, it can be argued that in  
a building, which is a product of sustainable architecture,  
an environment-conscious architectural code should be  
used, and therefore, shaping, positioning and constructing  
practice of the building and its relation to the topography  
are of great importance. Currently, the buildings could not  
meet the sustainable environment requirements with  
reference to both unnecessarily consuming energy and  
uncontrollable production of wastes. It is known that  
buildings consume 50% of the energy produced in the  
world and the other half is consumed in transportation and  
industry (Cebeci, 2005). According to another study,  
buildings are responsible for the 40% of carbon dioxide  
emission in the world (Somali and Ilıcalı, 2009).  
Sustainable design is an attempt to create maximum  
comfort of the people with the highest quality of life and  
create the least damage to the environment (Kiumarsi and  
Since the aim of this paper is applying the principles  
of sustainability in the architectural design of children  
spaces, after reviewing the basic concepts and necessity of  
this topic through library resources, and analyzing  
examples of sustainable children's spaces, some results  
acquired, which led to present executive and easy  
proposals for designing child spaces.  
Child and child space  
Child is a Part of the civilized human society and  
considering children is one of the principles of  
urbanization. In children space designing, child-oriented  
approach has priority. This means that the space should  
be designed for the child’s presence. Therefore, children  
safety during their presence in such spaces should be the  
main point and guideline in design and construction  
concepts and standards. Children have an active presence  
in the environment, as long as all their senses are in  
balance. For example, noise and air pollution, lack of  
good physical and mental realm and sense of congestion  
will prevent children from proper interaction with the  
environment. In addition, existence of any safety and  
security threat, which are detrimental for the balance of  
their mental and environmental power, will prevent their  
creative talents.  
Necessity of sustainability for children  
Moving and playing are two of the child’s primary  
needs. The perception of the environment, space, time and  
people is dependent on physical activity (Curriculum for  
Kindergartens, 1999). The goal of “Understanding the role  
of nature and a clean environment in relation to the  
physical activities happening there” is the most obvious  
one in Curriculum for kindergartens. It should be added  
that children must study how to learn throughout their life,  
as environmental problems are unpredictable. The  
children will approach these problems in the future as  
adults and they will act so independently through learning  
completely new skills. The consequence of such learning  
will be an empathetic knowledge (Rifkin, 2009), which  
In designing of children space, the aim is to create  
safety and a sense of belonging to the space. Emphasizing  
To cite this paper: Khodadad M, Moosavi Nadoshan SM, Khodadad S, Sanei M (2018). Operative Guidelines for Sustainable Designing of Child-Oriented Architectural Spaces. J.  
bonds and preserves relationships, emphasizes quality and  
strives to maintain and increase diversity, respects the  
legality of life and has the responsibility towards the  
future in a participative, synergistic and non-aggressive  
way. This, indeed, is what constitutes lifelong learning  
and education for sustainable development (Vodopivec,  
Developing a culture that supports children to  
understand the need for sustainable practices at  
kindergarten, at home and in the community.  
Developing a culture that encourages every  
member of our community to reduce, reuse, recycle and  
Developing a community that understands,  
In the era of dwindling oil supplies and rising energy  
costs, the need for low energy lifestyles has never been  
greater than today (Khodadad and Sanei, 2017). Over the  
last decades, interest and investments in sustainable  
energy have increased and, indeed, sustainable energy  
solutions are increasingly playing important roles in  
meeting the energy needs of the global community.  
However, little attention has been paid to the sustainable  
energy needs of children, despite the fact that sustainable  
energy solutions can provide major opportunities in terms  
of improving their health, education, well-being and  
recognizes and respects people and their connection to the  
land (The Sustainable Kindergarten Project year one,  
Children develop a sense of belonging to groups  
and communities and an understanding of the reciprocal  
rights and responsibilities necessary for active community  
Children respond to diversity with respect  
Children become aware of fairness  
Children become socially responsible and show  
respect for the environment (EYLF, 2009).  
Today, in educational sciences, “environmental  
sustainability” is one of the main subjects that lesson  
programs include several studies about. Telling “what  
sustainability is” only by words is not enough for using  
the knowledge in practice. Besides, students learn much  
more by seeing real examples rather than hearing about it.  
Children’s house can be seen as a real example, a 3D  
textbook written by an architect. Architecture discipline  
deals with environmental sustainability and defines  
The impacts of spaces and design elements on  
Design elements of the physical environment of  
child care facilities are thought to have important effects  
on children’s behavior (Moore et al., 1995). The physical  
environments of children have been investigated primarily  
in terms of spatial understanding (Wohlwill and Heft,  
1987). Based on Gibson’s (1979) theoretical ideas, we  
would expect that what the physical environment affords  
would have an influence on children’s perception,  
learning, and behavior within that environment.  
Therefore, all affordances within a physical environment  
affect children’s behavior, particularly cooperative  
behaviors. These affordances include all elements that are  
used and designed in architectural design of a child space,  
like differentiation in vertical space, wall colors, and their  
combination. So it is important to pay attention that what  
elements are defining in a design and how. For example,  
colors have important effects in the character of human  
beings, especially children and create an emotional  
experience, such as joy, laughter, sadness, grief, comfort,  
irritability, stillness and excitement. The designers of  
spaces specific to children cannot be indifferent with  
valuable and important conclusions in recognizing colors  
and their impacts on children (Alaghbandrad et al., 2003).  
For the children inside whom this feature intensified, they  
prefer vivid and mixed colors that are combined with each  
other in the right combination, due to their own pure,  
happy and vibrant spirit. This is the subject, which should  
be considered in designing, decorating and painting of  
interior spaces and, also, in appropriate color  
combinations of open spaces. With different colors, it is  
possible to illustrate size and weight of a certain object  
smaller or larger, lighter or heavier. Basically, warm and  
bright colors cause development of objects and extend  
sustainability is related with built environment design and  
designing with the natural environment.  
When educators create environments, in which  
children experience mutually enjoyable, caring and  
respectful relationships with people and the environment  
itself, children respond accordingly. When children  
participate collaboratively in everyday routines, events  
and experiences and have opportunities to contribute to  
decisions, they learn to live interdependently. Children’s  
connectedness and different ways of belonging with  
people, country and communities helps them learn ways  
of being, which reflect the values, traditions and practices  
of their families and communities. Over time, this learning  
transforms the ways they interact with others (EYLF,  
Aims of designing sustainable spaces for children  
Developing healthy physical and mental  
activities, and fostering children's abilities to,  
independently, maintain a healthy and safe life.  
Developing a culture, where sustainable practices  
are embedded in our daily kindergarten routines and  
To cite this paper: Khodadad M, Moosavi Nadoshan SM, Khodadad S, Sanei M (2018). Operative Guidelines for Sustainable Designing of Child-Oriented Architectural Spaces. J.  
them, while cold and dark colors make objects appear  
smaller than their size.  
4. Spaces for adventure, which are filled with  
complexity that strengthen children’s power of  
Main spaces in  
child-oriented designed  
5. Hiding spaces, which make children's autonomy  
An environment designed for children should  
include the following spaces:  
6. Spaces for play structures (playgrounds), which  
are designed with children’s playing and gaming facilities  
and fascinate them to play, where playing becomes  
1. Natural spaces, such as trees, water and living  
creatures, which form the most basic and important space  
for the children.  
2. Open spaces and wide spaces, in which children  
could run freely and release their internal energy.  
Examples of sustainable architectural design for  
3. Road spaces, which were children's main  
playground before the presence of cars. They are places,  
in which children meet each other, and networks, which  
connects various spaces together.  
Two examples of successfully designed children  
spaces are presented below (Table 1). Related figures are  
illustrated in article graphical abstract.  
Table 1. Sustainable children space examples  
Project Location &  
Project Title  
Important Criteria  
- Children communicate with each other through fun  
activities, in order to increase children's awareness.  
- Compatible design with bioclimatic aspects.  
- Structural design of the roof in a cantilever form.  
- Building innovative exhibits using natural fabrics and  
recycled materials.  
Koh Kood Sub-district,  
Thailand / 24H-architecture  
Children’s Activity &  
Learning Center  
Madison, USA /  
Madison Children’s  
- Tackling indoor air quality and instituting green incentives  
for employees.  
- Taking a local approach to an ecological design with a green  
roof, solar panels and rainwater harvesting.  
The Kubala Washatko  
Suggested solutions for designing sustainable  
children spaces  
Consider safety monitoring of the space for  
unexpected hazards.  
Cogitate how to minimize vandalism, as you  
Use industry standards for playing equipment to  
Make diversity in designing of spaces.  
Provide a wide range of play and activity  
ensure children are not exposed to unreasonable risks or  
unexpected hazards whilst playing.  
Choose a location near other facilities that  
children can get to easily.  
Consider safe methods for in-site car transport;  
Make sure the location and designed places are  
e.g. underground routes.  
accessible to both disabled and non-disabled children.  
Design wider hallways and good spatial visibility  
Develop the project in close co-operation with  
of people to prevent running collisions.  
the local community who use the site, to be loved by the  
Consider safe conditions of the floor or ground  
surface, as most children’s accidents involve falling down.  
Make spaces Ecological, Economic and Healthy  
by using trees and shrubs in the design.  
Make comfort zones by planting trees in hard  
surfaces to shade areas of active play.  
Design places that allow children of different  
ages to communicate and play together.  
Use flexible desinging, which allows change and  
Make the places more inviting to explore, by  
Locate the place close to nature, when possible.  
Plant a variety of tree and shrub species for  
building some spaces with no predefined function and no  
sense of where the activity space begins and ends.  
teaching and learning purposes.  
Consider safety regulations with respect to  
Plant species, which are manageable and  
natural disasters and fire.  
To cite this paper: Khodadad M, Moosavi Nadoshan SM, Khodadad S, Sanei M (2018). Operative Guidelines for Sustainable Designing of Child-Oriented Architectural Spaces. J.  
Choose plants which are fast growing, easy to  
Design places, which allow children to  
maintain and resilient.  
manipulate natural and fabricated materials, use tools, and  
have access to bits and pieces of all kinds.  
Choose native plant species, if you want to  
encourage wildlife.  
Provide suitable solutions for water playing in  
order to learn the consumption culture.  
Provide suitable solutions for sand playing that  
Avoid using plants, which are poisonous or  
uncomfortable to the touch (which have thorns, or leaves  
with sharp edges) or contain substances that could irritate  
the skin.  
fosters construction play, social interactions and  
experimentation with physical properties.  
Use plants and trees for natural ventilation of the  
Use native, natural, recycled or sustainably  
sourced materials, instead of synthetic materials wherever  
Consider the conservation, and ideally  
enhancement of wildlife habitats in and around the space.  
Avoid constructing with wood that has been  
treated with chemicals.  
Stimulate the five senses by providing access to  
music and sound, and different smells made by plants and  
Use appropriate materials, which are resistant  
against water in walls (washable walls).  
Provide natural elements for playing, such as  
Use granitic sand rather than brick sand or  
sand and water with considering the sustainability of  
concrete sand, which tends to blow around on dry windy  
days and can be a safety concern.  
Provide natural lighting and ventilation, as much  
Choose the best surface material for the activities  
as possible.  
planned not always the cheapest or easiest surface to  
maintain. A good choice of surfacing will add activity  
value to a scheme.  
Design proper building envelope.  
Decrease the heat island effect by using outdoor  
Use pathways to separate areas in the play space  
green areas or high-albedo materials.  
Use water recycling methods together with  
renewable energy production; e.g. solar panels.  
Use rain and recycled water for green area’s  
that serve different functions and provide a boundary to  
areas that should not be entered.  
Provide a variety of path choices to enhance  
variations for play and exploration.  
Include seating and pull-off points along the path  
Design green and usable roofs or facades; e.g.  
to rest, read or play.  
façade agriculture.  
Create designated paths for tricycle riding and  
Design interior green areas, which adds variety  
cart pulling.  
and liveliness to the space.  
Use gates and fences as opportunities for creating  
Consider visual comfort terms (level of light,  
a sense of place that speaks to children’s imagination and  
creativity, by defining them as artworks.  
balance of contrasts, appropriate colors, etc.) in designing.  
Use proper glazing and insulations and not too  
much insulated places, as it is important to maintain a  
loose relationship with the outside in order to ensure  
appropriate immunity and adaptability.  
Sensory impulses, which child receives from his  
surroundings, are very crucial for his growth progress.  
Psychologists have discovered the effects of architecture  
on children's behavior and it is up to architects to integrate  
these theories with special needs of children in the design  
process. Needs of infants and children are special. Their  
rights as members of society, which enables them to  
expand their social relations, are as significant as impacts  
of the architecture of buildings, such as homes, hospitals  
and theaters, on other segments of society. Since  
education is based on people and the environment, which  
have impacts on talents of children and their interactions  
with that environment, speaking about the idea of space,  
as a factor of education, is not out of discussion.  
Consider the position, shape and morphology of  
the building with respect to sun location and the  
prevailing directions of the wind.  
Design accurate localization of openings and  
using suitable types of openings and shading systems,  
relative to sunlight and wind direction.  
Use appropriate materials in terms of heating  
Determine drainage flow and avoid planting trees  
in areas subject to salt runoff.  
Consider using permeable paving on walkways  
and in parking lots to reduce water runoff and increase  
ground percolation.  
Use a color or stain for paving to reduce the  
By designing a sustainable space for children, it is  
possible to give them information and fundamental  
concepts of sustainability, through touchable examples,  
which they know them as their simple experiments. World  
sun’s glare and reflection.  
Strike a balance between areas of hard and soft  
To cite this paper: Khodadad M, Moosavi Nadoshan SM, Khodadad S, Sanei M (2018). Operative Guidelines for Sustainable Designing of Child-Oriented Architectural Spaces. J.  
needs sustainability a lot and we have to be trained to do  
our best to get the most benefits out of our resources,  
while saving them. For this purpose, the awareness of  
sustainability must be developed, and the experimental-  
educational form is the most reliable way to achieve this  
This paper tried to study the necessity of sustainable  
design of child-oriented spaces, by reviewing library  
resources and two case of studies, and as the results, some  
instructions for designing sustainable children spaces are  
suggested. It could be recommended for future researchers  
to analyze, both qualitatively and quantitatively with  
suitable methods, the impacts of each important suggested  
implementation in existing examples of children spaces, to  
have clearer vision of the most effective design solutions.  
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Authors’ Contributions  
All authors participated equally in this research.  
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To cite this paper: Khodadad M, Moosavi Nadoshan SM, Khodadad S, Sanei M (2018). Operative Guidelines for Sustainable Designing of Child-Oriented Architectural Spaces. J.