A child-friendly Calton

Lotta Pulkkinen, Architecture

Winner, Stage 4 Architecture Prize 2021

In 2017 over 34% of children in Glasgow were estimated to be living in poverty. Loneliness and low self-esteem are growing issues among children and young adults. 23% of young adults (16-25yrs) said that they often or always feel lonely (Glasgow, 2020). Poor physical or mental health cause children to suffer and has life-long consequences.

The design is located in Calton, Glasgow and proposes a youth centre and youth quarter that expands around the urban block. The neighbourhood suffers especially from high child poverty and lack of safe spaces for children. The proposal provides a network of child-friendly urban spaces and play opportunities throughout the public realm. The youth centre offers a supervised environment for socially engaged spare time and informal learning.

Controlled environments encourage and supports an active and healthy lifestyle. This in turn has a positive influence on personal growth and physical and mental well-being of an individual. The urban program is built around an assessment model of a child-friendly environment. The ideal environment for children creates a positive interaction between a child and the environment. Independent mobility enables a child to discover and experience the material world. The youth centre provides optimised conditions to create opportunities for personal growth and improvement of the over-all well-being. It supports positive social relationships and provides equal opportunities for children.

Structural concept and materiality

The building is structurally divided into two parts: a log structure and a glue-laminated timber structure. Log construction is applied for lower spaces which have shorter span length, whereas glue-laminated timber structure is more suitable for larger spaces.

Pre-fabricated timber logs are stacked and joined together to form a load bearing wall structure. The sheer-mass of log wall has a significant insulating role, and no additional insulation is needed considering the thermal design. The climate conditions in Scotland require a weather protective cladding.

The secondary structure consists of cross laminated timber floor plates and glue-laminated pillars and beams. All these structural elements act as stiffening components for the log walls. Log building is sustainable due to the durability, the portability of log structures and repairability without dismantling the bearing structures.

Wood contributes positively to the over-all quality of indoor environments. The graining of the log walls create comfortable and ideal acoustic conditions for educational spaces. As a material wood creates a positive emotional experience as it is associated with nature and natural environment reducing the levels of stress. Wood is a low air pollutant and has antibacterial qualities. As a hygroscopic material, wood has the ability to regulate its moisture content according to the ambient air having a direct impact on the relative humidity of indoor air.


Children in Outdoor Contexts
Affordances and Independent Mobility in the Assessment of Environmental Child Friendliness
Marketta Kyttä, 2003

Lotta Pulkkinen

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