Design for inclusive play spaces and parks

Universal Design Conference logo.Design for access and inclusion in play spaces and parks: those devilish details that make a difference

Mary Jeavons is a landscape architect with more than 25 years experience in the design of inclusive play spaces. In her presentation she shows some of the practicalities of creating inclusion. As is often the case, it’s the attention to detail that makes the difference. Her slideshow has many pictures and this makes it a large document to download.

Jeavons presentation slideshow PDF 22MB

Presentation Abstract:  

The need for access to nature, parks, gardens and diverse outdoor play opportunities is well documented and fundamental to human wellbeing. Parks and open space become increasingly important as the densities of cities increase. The design of these important spaces is therefore critical in determining how individuals of all ages and abilities access the outdoor settings for play and recreation, physical activity, social interaction, respite and retreat, and engagement with nature. 

This paper focuses on the design of parks and play spaces of all kinds and their potential for intergenerational play, social interaction and community building, and for interaction with the natural world. This is a contested domain.

Play equipment in a neatly fenced rubber space, it is argued, cannot meet all of the play needs of today’s children and families. To design quality play settings in urban environments, designers need to address challenging issues in play provision such as the need for: looseness and responsiveness in public parks to allow for hands-on engagement and creativity; self-directed, unstructured play; provision for risk taking behaviour; high levels of useability and multi functionality; and for diversity in the qualities of parks, play spaces and open space.

A particularly thoughtful approach is required to provide and protect these and many other aspects of quality play and recreation environments, and to engage users of all ages and all abilities. As we broaden our concept of play, we can diversify the way we design to maximise useability. This richly illustrated presentation will show examples of details that matter to maximise physical access, social inclusion and opportunities for all users to participate in outdoor play in parks. (Paper presented by Sally Jeavons.)

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