Living on a building site: Young people's experiences of emerging `Sustainable Communities' in England

Peter Kraftl, Pia Christensen, John Horton, Sophie Hadfield-Hill

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticlepeer-review


This paper examines experiences of young people (9-16) who live in new communities that are under construction. In the context of large-scale housing developments, built in England after 2000, it analyses various ways in which young people engage with life `on a building site'. From ethnographic research in three unfinished communities, several inter-linked themes became apparent: how young people engaged with building sites in both aesthetic and material registers; how building sites could, paradoxically, constitute places for both safer play and of significant risk; how such sites could afford sociability whilst simultaneously representing foci for intergenerational tensions. Thus, the paper contributes to studies of architecture/urban design, geographical studies of childhood, and expands a recent call for critical geographies of construction sites. In particular, we argue for the significance of building sites as important, often-overlooked times and places where meaning-making and everyday routines are fostered and normalised in new communities. (C) 2013 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)191-199
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2013


  • Urban design
  • architecture
  • childhood
  • children's geographies
  • materiality
  • urban regeneration
  • youth


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