“Children Innovate” project, Arkki and UNICEF CFCI, Inspire Awards 2019

Arkki and Unicef present children’s proposals on ‘Child friendly city’ in an exhibition and an awards ceremony in Ho Chi Minh City

An exhibition and an awards ceremony organized in October 19 in Ho Chi Minh City, marks a great final for a series of ‘Child Friendly City’ summer camps organized in collaboration between Arkki, UNICEF, the Department of Architecture and Planning of Ho Chi Minh City and Saigon Innovation Hub. In the ceremony, three proposals were awarded, and the awarded solutions will actually influence the future urban planning of Ho Chi Minh.  The process is part of Ho Chi Minh City’s Friendly City Initiative (2017-2021) and the ceremony was organized in connection with Ho Chi Minh City Innovation, Startup and Entrepreneurship Week (WHISE 2018).

During summer 2018, 289 children from 8 to 16 years old, many in a situation of vulnerability and disadvantage, participated Arkki summer camps on urban design. In each course, teams of children and youth learned about urban design process and shared their ideas of a child-friendly city, working on a bespoke area of Ho Chi Minh City, Thu Thiem. The elder children used 3D Augmented Reality in their design project, applying Sketchup application and Hololens glasses.


‘I find the program a lot of fun. The teachers are very cheerful and always ready to explain what I do not know. We have learned different ways to build a child-friendly city from our own views’.
Hoang Mai Anh (11 years old, at Grade 6, Tran Van On School) 

The award ceremony at the Riverside Palace followed an online and physical exhibition of the 21 models created during the summer camps. The public got to familiarize themselves and give feedback on all proposals. The ceremony was opened by the Finnish Ambassador in Vietnam, Mr Kari Kahiluoto. While congratulating the stakeholders of the great initiative, Mr. Kahiluoto noted that ‘Arkki concept represents many things that are important for Finland: innovation, education, creativity, equality and participation.’

UNICEF Deputy Country Representative in Vietnam, Lesley Miller commented in her speech that ‘Unicef often talks about child participation, which may sound very abstract. However, here we see that it can also be very concrete and give true added value to city planners and officials.’


Her colleague Marianne Oehlers, Chief of Programme Partnerships Office, continues: ‘Almost everywhere in the world, the design process is undertaken by adults, while the end-users are often children, such is the case in parks, public areas and schools. Children Innovate: Smart and Child Friendly Cities create an environment for children to express their opinions and influence decisions that affect them, so that a safe, secure and clean environment,  taking into account children’s perspectives, may be provided by urban planning experts and decision-makers’.



Pihla Meskanen, the Co-founder and CEO of Arkki International and a panelist of this year’s edition of Ho Chi Minh City Innovation, Startup and Entrepreneurship Week (WHISE 2018), is excited about the results of the program:

 ‘The overall process and the exhibition demonstrate the capacity that children have. When guided with a well-thought pedagogical process, children can produce creative, well argumented and innovative proposals that truly add value to urban planning. Hence, I’m especially pleased that the ideas will actually be used by the Department of Architecture and Planning of Ho Chi Minh City.’

Ho Chi Minh has been the first step in Arkki’s market entry to South East Asia. According to a licensing agreement signed in May, during the coming years the co-operation will be expanded to the whole of Vietnam and the 9 other ASEAN countries: Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines, Indonesia, Singapore, Myanmar, Lao PRD, Cambodia and Brunei. Also in terms of educational content the collaboration will expand to cover the whole Arkki concept and courses for all age groups of 4-19 years.


Links to other media:

Video on Unicef Vietnam Facebook: here
UNICEF Vietnam press release: here

Media coverage:
For more information please contact:
Pihla Meskanen | CEO of Arkki International Ltd.
pihla@arkki.net / 050 517 4602 / Kalevankatu 31 a 14, 00100 Helsinki
Arkki International Ltd.
The Arkki School of Architecture for Children and Youth is the leading institution in architectural education for children and youth in the world, founded in Finland in 1993. Arkki education empowers children and youth with innovation skills, holistically intertwining the cognitive, behavioral, functional and technical aspects. The objective is to support children and youth to become innovative influencers of the future – whatever their chosen vocation may be. In Finland, Arkki belongs to the network of art education institutes that have been certified by the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture to offer school children extracurricular visual art education. Arkki International Ltd. is the company licensing the Arkki education concept globally. So far Arkki Schools are located in 12 cities in Finland, Greece, Cyprus and the Czech Republic. Arkki is an official member of a national education export program Education Finland program, offering Finnish educational know-how and learning solutions globally.