Of agency, participation and design: Two contrasting play scenarios in Indian cities

in How to Grow a Playspace: Development and Design
Routledge, Taylor and Francis

This chapter explores the role of planners and designers as well the agency of children themselves in two contrasting play scenarios—the middle class gated community and the informal, incrementally built neighbourhood—in Delhi, India. Examining the physicality and temporality of play spaces, the chapter underscores that the agency of children and the role of design professionals and childhood experts is limited in the above cases where, one one hand, contestations over open space in gated communities are played out in the courts and, on the other, children indulge in risky play in non-designated spaces like streets and parking lots in informal settlements. The chapter advocates the inclusion of child-centric approaches in city planning through participative exercises and strategic urban interventions.