Alku (beginning) is a method for child-friendly design developed by Nomaji, which is based on our broad experience in designing urban spaces and learning environments. Using the method, we design and develop environments where everyone can grow and live healthily and happily.

The method includes tools for analysis and participation, design solutions, and customizable outdoor structures and furniture with which the perspective and well-being of children and young people are placed at the center of the design process. In addition to children’s environments, such as schools and kindergartens, the method can be used to improve child-friendliness in all outdoor spaces. The method is adaptable to different scales, from urban planning to detailed design of outdoor spaces.

In a child-friendly environment, responsibility and sustainability are taken into account as a whole. According to our experience, a child-friendly environment is good for other users as well, since a child-friendly city is diverse, interesting, safe and healthy for everyone. It offers opportunities to learn and experience new things, and it promotes the child’s growth and development in a variety of ways. At the same time, it is taking care of the future.

The Alku method is based on three design principles: enabling contact with nature, supporting spontaneous movement and offering opportunities for learning everywhere in the urban environment.

Contact with nature is an important part of children’s development and well-being. Scientific research continuously provides more and more information about the positive effects of regular contact with nature on, for example, the development of a child’s immune system. Contact with nature also helps in understand biological diversity and appreciating nature. In addition to being in nature, contact with nature can be increased in the built environment, for example by adding natural elements and materials to urban spaces.

Movement improves physical condition, coordination and balance, helps in the development of creativity and enhances learning. A child-friendly environment supports both guided and spontaneous outdoor movement by encouraging and enabling different ways of using the environment. By adding playful elements to the urban environment, the movement of children and young people can be increased while expanding the areas they feel comfortable and safe in.

Diverse nature in a diverse built environment offers unique learning opportunities. Learning outdoors increases motivation and teaches different skills. In a child-friendly environment, learning opportunities are available everywhere, and learning takes place independently through doing and experiencing. Outdoor spaces offer many learning opportunities which can make learning more fun and meaningful.

We offer concrete solutions for taking children’s needs into consideration as part of the development of cities and for developing child-friendliness at a strategic level. In addition to our own expertise, we also utilize of our partners in, for example, service and furniture design and participation. If the topic interests you, get in touch with us and let’s think together about how we could be of help.

Riikka Nousiainen