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Title: An investigation of the role of informal play environments for quality outdoor play
Author: Rowhani, Shirin
ISNI:       0000 0004 2720 5946
Awarding Body: University of the West of England, Bristol
Current Institution: University of the West of England, Bristol
Date of Award: 2011
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The role of the outdoor play settings in children's play has long been of interest to the field of planning and design of the built-environment. While a vast body of research has been dedicated to understanding the nature and implications of the design of formal play spaces, such as playgrounds and play centres, very little is known about the characteristics of informal play spaces such as streets that are conducive to quality play. The aim of this study is to develop an evidence-based understanding of the effects of informal play spaces on quality outdoor play. Quality play is determined by the frequency, duration and intensity of play, as well the opportunities available for social interaction and independent mobility. This study proposes a conceptual framework that provides a structure to examine the interaction between three spheres (the built environment characteristics, societal issues, and economic conditions) believed to be critical to help transform the quality of child outdoor play. In this study, recent technology based on accelerometers and tracking devices, together with questionnaire surveys, friendship network mapping exercises, and the built- environment audit, have allowed an accurate, comprehensive and revealing picture of the relationship between the built-environment characteristics and quality of outdoor play. The finding of this study suggests that informal outdoor play spaces support a range of spontaneous, freely chosen, child initiated play activities. The finding reveals that playing in informal spaces, which are not necessarily allocated or designed for play, tends to be associated with longer and more frequent playtime in outdoors, higher levels of physical activity, more interaction between children and extended independent mobility compared with playing in formal spaces. The investigation determined that connectivity of the street networks for pedestrian, natural on-site supervision, and parents' perceptions of neighbourhood safety are positively associated to children's levels of physical activity. Children play more in watched spaces and their levels of sociability are higher in these spaces. The results reflect that the accompaniment of children by adults adversely affects the duration and frequency of their outdoor play.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available