Tag Archives: design

Seven principles of playground design

Lion sculpture in Aaholm school playgroundI really appreciate the thoughtful comments to my last post about playground design. It prompted me to summarise my own views in the form of seven design principles (plus an extra one for luck). What do you think of them? Feel free to continue the conversation!

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Whose playground is it anyway?

playground motorbikeAt last September’s Open for Play seminar, London playground designer Jerry Cooper of Theories Landscapes wondered whether there was a danger of losing sight of the child who – he argues – should be at the centre of playground design thinking. “Are we,” he asked, “turning ‘play’, a free-flowing and natural activity, into an adult controlled, designed and spatially confined event in places and ways that are adult-devised, justified and rationalised?” It’s a good question (which Jerry reminded me about in an email exchange last week).

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Open for Play: The Director’s Cut

Do you want to enjoy all the presentations from last month’s Open for Play seminar – on designing for play in playgrounds, streets and public spaces – from the comfort of your own office (or living room, studio, or bedroom)? Well, here is your chance. The full programme of formal presentations is now available to view online in glorious video and audio.

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Inspiration from Copenhagen

Tower in Valbyparken, CopenhagenHow does Denmark’s capital city meet its children’s need for outdoor play – and what can other nations learn from its approach? For a well-researched, gloriously detailed, beautifully presented answer, look no further than a new report from Australian architect Tanya Vincent.

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Roll up, roll up! London is Open for Play next week!

Glamis adventure playgroundMy plan to showcase some of London’s most playful places has been in the pipeline for a while. And now it’s around the corner. For all the latest info, follow this link to the mighty Playscapes blog – including handy onward links to the Open House website, with more details and maps for all the venues.

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Playgrounds that rip up the safety rules

Girl hanging from a fallen tree in Valbyparken playgroundThis post has a simple aim: to get you to rethink playground safety. Through a handful of images of playgrounds from around the world, I hope to encourage you to abandon any preconceived notions you may have about what a safe playground looks like.

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Two contrasting takes on play space design

Designing for play book coverPlay space design in the UK has undergone a renaissance. Lottery and government funding (while it lasted), inspirational ideas from overseas, and a more balanced approach to risk have all helped to fuel a growing number of great places for play. I suspect that most UK readers of this review can think of at least one new public playground in their area that looks altogether more inviting, engaging and challenging than anything that went before.

For some at the forefront of this movement – and I include myself here – items like the ‘springy chicken’ epitomise an impoverished way of thinking about what appeals to children. So when Barbara Hendricks in her book Designing for Play calls the ‘spillophøne’ – a closely related species – “a beautiful design”, I know my views of what makes for a good play space will be challenged. Continue reading