Young girls are overwhelmingly excluded from public spaces. Public spaces, like parks and multi-use game areas, are instead often planned and designed for stereotypical boys and young men. As a result, investments such as skate parks, BMX tracks, and football pitches are used almost entirely by boys. We think the exclusion of girls and young women’s needs from the planning and designing of these public spaces is a problem and that girls and young women need to be involved in their public spaces through researching their own spatial experiences, having a voice in planning, and informing design.
This project entails hiring ten girls and young women aged 16-24 in various sites in the UK to investigate these themes. It is a ‘research in residence’ style project – a paid learning and working experience – focusing on the needs of girls and working in partnership with the LSE Cities centre and the advocacy group, Make Space for Girls. Participation in this project will include undertaking a six-week curriculum to apply a critical lens to understanding and researching public space by conducting various social and spatial assessments of public space in participants’ local areas. This project, and its young researchers-in-residence, will explore how girls and young women experience public space in their localities and encourage them to imagine new ways of designing these spaces.
The primary aim of this project is to further explore an innovative participatory research method – the researcher-in-residence model for strategic design action at LSE Cities - advancing the concept where critical inquiry is informed by and responds to the experiences and needs of the people involved. This primary aim is therefore a methodological one asking how peer research is done in practice.
The secondary aim is to share our research on the provision and access of public space for young girls and make a real-world difference through direct engagement with local authorities and stakeholders; working in collaboration with third sector partner organisation Make Space for Girls. This project, through a researcher-in-residence model with girls and young women, therefore both furthers a particular participatory spatial methodology while investigating the ways in which gender, age, design and public space intersect.
Olivia Theocharides-Feldman - Research Assistant
Researcher, LSE Cities