The global process of urbanization, and the modification of social interaction determined by the pandemic crisis, poses the issue of the place of vulnerable users and, in particular, children, within the contemporary city. This research aimed to elaborate a theoretical and methodological framework, based on the concepts of affordance and capability, for analyzing the potential of public spaces to enable and support children’s independent activities. This potential, or meaningful usefulness, is expressed by the Index of Meaningful Usefulness of public Urban Spaces (IUIS
). The latter is calculated via the tool ‘Opportunities for Children in Urban Spaces’ (OCUS). This methodology is applied to the analysis of significant public spaces within the historic center of the city of Iglesias in Sardinia, Italy. The results reveal adequate usefulness of the selected spaces, while underlining criticalities related to intrinsic spatial and physical attributes. The application to the case study confirms the validity of the theoretical and methodological framework embodied in the OCUS tool for supporting urban design and planning by orienting place-shaping processes towards the acknowledgement of children’s needs.
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