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16 Apr 15

Odense, the City Where HC Andersen was Born, Showing the City Hard Work to Create Child Friendly Play Space for Public


Similar with other Scandinavian cities, Odense city, is a residence of majority Viking inheritance combine with immigrants from all over the world. This city is the largest city in Funen island, the third largest city in Denmark, an archipelago nation, located in northern part of Europe. A city with four seasons, fall, winter, spring, summer, proud to have a legendary children fairy tales writer, HC Andersen. Odense city, a place of 172,512 inhabitant (2014) or approximately almost the same with Kebayoran Baru sub district in South Jakarta (141,714 in 2010).  


Geographically, a river flows in the middle of Odense city. The river area, instead of becoming the city’s constraint, is developped to be center of city’s activities, especially to provide play space. The city’s commitment is shown by adopting HC Andersen quotation “to Travel is to Live” to be the city’s vision: “to Play is to Live”, and provides 240 children play space for public. The city creates opportunities for its resident to be proactive in play, experiment, and innovation. 


The city of Odense currently is an outcome of rethinking on human welfare system with full participation of the city’s resident. Based on stakeholder’s involvement, about 7 km along the river bank area is released by city authority to fill the city green open space. This area along the riverbank is created wide enough to cater bikers and pedestrians, back and forth. In several areas in wider spaces, various children playgrounds are scattered to serve children from 0 to 18 years old. For younger children, children playgrounds with specific themes such as butterflies, tug boat, and more are created. For the bigger children, with more active games, there are several sports facilities such as football field, basketball field, and more. Inclusivity of the playground is also well-planned by providing innovative playground equipment for children with disabilities.      


Some areas are planned to conserve its natural condition as if city wood or forest, and gives opportunities to visitors to do activities in nature. Late at night and early in the morning the city park is still active, showing that security is considered as priority since the lightings are enough and well planned. Several benches are placed every about 100 meter along the pathway to give a chance to take a rest, to read, or even to enjoy the riverside view. Several nooks in the park are filled with local artists’ artworks. Especially artworks that inspired by HC Andersen fairytales, for example origami paper boat in big scale, even fill one river edge. Remember the Tin Soldier, who fall in love with the Wooden Ballerina?  After travelling around the city trough out the tunnel by origami boat made of paper, swallowed by a fish that bring him back to his love of his live, the wooden ballerina. The artworks that scattered around in the city of Odense successfully enliven the city’s pride, HC Andersen’s fairy tales.   


Moreover, accessibilities to supporting facilities such as drinking water tap and toilet are easy. Payable public toilets are spread not only in the park but also almost in every 400 meters, reachable by pedestrian. The city promotes its resident to be active by encouraging them to travel by bike, a lot of bikes rental are provided in the city to serve visitor to bike from one place to other place without an obligation to go back to the first place where he or she rent the bike. A lot of bike parks are provided close to playground areas. Some area provides visitors with street vendors in a well planned zoning and well manage including managing trash. 


As if it is still heard when Princess Mary from Denmark attended the Child in the City International Conference Grand Opening to discuss Child Friendly City, followed by different language greetings, including “Selamat Datang”.  Child Friendly City activist delegations came from all over the world to brain-storm within three days in the city which name derived from the word Odin, name of Nordic god. Thanks to sponsors Betty Pamuntjak &Tore Nyberg and Nina Mussolini – Hansson, who made ars86care foundation represented by Ir. Marini Widowati MA, MUD to present her paper entitled “Child Friendly Early Childhood Education Provision Model in Child Oriented Development”, and possible to visit both countries, Denmark and Sweden, to observe children spaces in the city. Children Play Space in the green open space along the Odense river was not release from the city authority and related stakeholders active involvement, especially children, where their participation is considered as necessary part of Child Friendly Children Play ground development. Perhaps this is the answer why Odense city can become a sample of Child Friendly City best practice in Europe, where the seventh Child in the City Conference was held, organized by European Network of Child Friendly City, in cooperation with UNICEF and the city of Odense authority [MW].  



Ars86care foundation started with a group of Indonesian architects who were concerned about the environment and wanted to improve environment quality as legacy for their children. Ars86care is a registered foundation for children, the environment, and education, with three main programs, including Space to Build, Words to Share, and Value to Do. The mission of ars86care foundation is to promote and to create high quality, child-friendly living spaces in order to achieve a better quality of life for the children, who are the future of Indonesia. The group has worked with over 1,000 volunteers sinceit’s establishment in 2007.

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16 Apr 2015