Gaia Architects

consultation through participation

The Children's Eco-City

Client: TASC Agency and various city councils – Belfast, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Thessaloniki, Jo'burg

Gaia were commissioned by the TASC Agency, specialists in children's issues, to assist in the design of a children's event on Urban Design and Planning to be held during the European Heads of Government meeting in Edinburgh in 1991. The Eco-city project evolved through the ensuing collaboration between the TASC Agency and Gaia.

This project involved forty 10-12 year olds from 4 European counties working together for one week to construct an eco utopian city. The work culminated in the children developing a scale model to explain principles of urban design and sustainability to an invited group of parents, national and local politicians, the technical press and representatives of various professional bodies.

The project was regarded as a stunning success on many levels. It demonstrated significant potential as a tool for encouraging community engagement in built development projects and it deals with issues holistically and strategically in a dynamic and visual way. The children develop many core skills that fit well into the modern curriculum.

The Children's project has since been run as a joint venture between Gaia and The TASC Agency and as part of community consultation exercises in Glasgow, Belfast, Edinburgh, Halifax, Johannesburg and Thessaloniki. It has proved an effective means of engaging children and attracting adults into a debate on the future of their own neighbourhood, using the children's work as a catalyst.

An Eco-city project in Edinburgh gave rise to a children's request for there own parliament. This has since evolved as a thriving charity in its own right with full time staff to services the democratic rights and opportunities of over 100,000 Scottish Children.