Children, Youth and Environments
Vol 13, No.1 (Spring 2003)
ISSN 1546-2250

Children’s Dens

Maria Kylin
Department of Landscape Planning
Alnarp, the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

Citation: Kylin, Maria. “Children’s Dens.” Children, Youth and Environments 13(1), Spring 2003. Retrieved [date] from


Previous studies have described different aspects of “dens,” “enclosures” or “own places.” In design and planning, such studies take their starting point from the physical environment and as such focus on dens as physical objects (e.g., with a “place,” “a floor,” or “walls”). In contrast, research in psychology and sociology takes its starting point from children’s own way of experiencing and understanding dens and focuses on mental and social aspects (e.g., as a place for special games, or as a secret place of retreat). Few studies reflect on the interesting intersection between these two ways of describing “dens” and its relevance for understanding children’s points of view in planning and design.

Based on research of children aged 9-13 in as Swedish small town, the aim of this paper is twofold. First, to describe dens as physical objects in a physical context in which children choose to make dens, in this sense an adult/professional perspective; second, to portray children’s understanding and experiences of a den, thus a child’s perspective. The paper also comments on how planners can use these different perspectives to make environments child-friendly.

Keywords: play; dens; landscape design; child sociology