Start with Children: the international summit on building cities of the future for children begins with the first accompanying event at Prague’s CAMP


At the end of May, Bratislava will host an international conference on building cities that are safer, greener and regardful of children’s needs. More than thirty experts from the fields of urban planning, architecture and climate protection will present their know-how at the summit. During lectures, workshops and panel discussions, they will talk about city planning in terms of the needs of future generations. The summit is organised by the city of Bratislava and the Metropolitan Institute of Bratislava.

Prior to the Start with Children conference, as part of the partnership cooperation between Bratislava and Prague, the accompanying Urban Talks event will be held on 24 April 2024 at Prague’s Centre for Architecture and Metropolitan Planning (CAMP), which will introduce the topic of the summit and start a discussion about why it is necessary to build cities for future generations. Matúš Vallo, mayor of Bratislava, the capital of the Slovak Republic, as well as Simon Battisti, architect and content curator of the Start with Children summit, and Adam Gebrian, a well-known populariser of architecture, will talk about building cities for future generations and the importance of city planning for children. Stepán Bärtl, from the CAMP in Prague, will moderate the discussion.

“I’m pleased that we will have the opportunity in Prague to start the big international Start with Children conference, which will be held in Bratislava in May. For me, as mayor and as an architect, public space plays a big role in improving a city’s quality of life. Physical space affects how we feel in it, which in turn impacts how we act towards others. If children feel well and safe in a city, it becomes a more open, pleasant and safe place for all of us. I’m convinced that it is necessary to plan cities with children’s needs in mind. This will help us build the future well and responsibly, thanks to which our cities will be prosperous and sustainable,” said Matúš Vallo, the mayor of Bratislava, the capital of the Slovak Republic, who will take part in the discussion at the accompanying Urban Talks event and will also appear at the summit as a speaker.

Accompanying event in Prague – Urban Talks: Start With Children ↗︎

The organisers of the international conference Start with Children, which will be held in Bratislava, have arranged, in cooperation with the CAMP, an accompanying event in Prague on planning cities for children. They will talk about changes of priorities, when children will be at the centre of planning. As a result, cities and public spaces become greener, safer and more comfortable for all residents, where children will want to spend their adult lives, too. At the discussion with Matúš Vallo, Adam Gebrian and Simon Battisti, you’ll learn why planning should start from children, not adults, and why it doesn’t work the other way around.

What will the Start with Children conference itself bring?

During two days at the end of May, it will be possible to take part in lectures, panel discussions, workshops and tours of the historical centre of Bratislava.

The first day of the summit will focus on topics such as the climate crisis, adaptation to extreme weather, prosperous neighbourhoods and society or playing and everyday freedom.

On the second day, topics such as building cities with children, participation, working with a neighbourhood, the city and caring communities, children’s relationship with nature, leading children to activism and children and mobility will be discussed.

As part of the accompanying programme, a Play pavilion ↗︎, which is a part of the project of the Metropolitan Institute of Bratislava under the name City for Children, will also be opened. Workshops on the topics of urban development, sustainability and ecology will be prepared for children.

Internationally recognised personalities will participate

You can look forward to important experts recognised in the field of urbanism and architecture all over the world. These include Amanda M. Burden, Dagur Eggertsson, Jan Gehl, Ankita Chachra, Gil Penalosa and Erion Veliaj.

Jan Gehl is a Danish architect, professor and consultant in the field of people-oriented urban design. He is a pioneer in the introduction of observational techniques for acquiring evidence on human behaviour and is also one of the most important voices in people-oriented urban planning. He believes that the following sequence should be used when building cities: life, then spaces, and then buildings.

Ankita Chachra is a climate expert and director at the Capita organisation – a US-based think tank – where she leads work on defining the relationship between early childhood flourishing and climate adaptation for government policymakers. She has worked for decades on cutting-edge urban design that addresses the needs of children and caregivers with the programme of a global initiative in the area of designing urban streets for children.

Gil Penalosa is a Canadian urban planner, founder and chairman of the board of the Canadian non-profit organisation 8 80 Cities. He is also the academic chair of the Norman Foster Institute for Sustainable Cities and an expert advisor to the International Society for Urban Health. He has worked for governments in more than 350 cities and is an expert in urban design with a focus on age, health and well-being. In his view, 8-year-olds and 80-year-olds moving in the same public space is an indicator of a well-functioning city.

Amanda M. Burden is a principal at the consulting firm Bloomberg Associates. As New York City’s Urban Planning Commissioner in 2002 – 2013, she stood at the forefront of the city’s largest planning effort since 1961, initiating comprehensive plans for a change in land-use in 124 neighbourhoods and helping to create significant new housing options in diverse communities across the five boroughs of New York.

Dagur Eggertsson is the deputy mayor of Reykjavík, Iceland. He has an impressive record behind him, including ten years as the city’s mayor in 2014 – 2024. His contributions, which emphasise growth that considers the needs of all citizens, especially young people, resonate with the international community.

Erion Veliaj is a three-time mayor of Tirana, the capital of Albania. From his position, he promotes an approach that puts the needs of children first. He believes that the transformation of cities should also be guided by this principle. When solving disputes over public spaces, his answer is to focus primarily on children. The right way is to adopt measures that are suitable for the youngest people in a city.

The two-day conference will be held in Bratislava’s Stará tržnica (Old Market Hall)

The event will be held on 28 – 29 May 2024 in the premises of the Old Market Hall in Bratislava. On these days, it will be possible to take part in lectures, panel discussions, workshops and tours of the historical centre of Bratislava.

You’ll find more information about the conference at Start with Children ↗︎.