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Architect wins fellowship to study the effect high-density housing on children

Natalia Krysiak, an architect at Hayball, is one of 112 winners of the Churchill Fellowship, which funds overseas travel for Australians pursuing innovation in any given field. The scholarships are worth on average $27,000.

Krysiak won the David Lindner Research Prize from the NSW Chapter of the Australian Institute of Architects in 2017 with a proposal examining the potential for high-density areas to provide environments for increased play and independent mobility of children. She has been advocating for child-friendly cities since graduating from Monash University in 2013.

On the basis of this work, she founded a non-profit think-tank, Cities for Play, which aims to inspire and promote strategies for playful cities.

Krysiak said the funding would “give me the opportunity to find out how children live in compact cities, and how we can improve their health and wellbeing – a topic that hasn’t been given much attention in Australia.

“Rarely do we link health and wellbeing of children back to the physical environment in which they live.”

She noted that the suburbs in which children are raised have been subject to rapid change in recent decades, “and in Australia the research hasn’t caught up with those changes, which also means largely we’re lagging behind international best practice.

“We need to make sure the way we design and build cities is good for younger citizens.”

The Churchill Fellowships were first awarded in 1965, after the death of former United Kingdom prime minister Winston Churchill, which were intended to be an egalitarian scholarship open to all kinds of people who would bring back knowledge to their home countries from abroad.

“I’m thrilled to be a 2018 Fellow,” said Krysiak, “and to have the chance to look at best practice examples of designing new vertical communities for families from around the world, and applying them here at home.”

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