Playspaces: The adventure evolution

A boy and girl are in a forest and are assembling lots of fallen branches to make a hideout in this adventure playspace evolution.Playspace designers have an important role to play in society. That’s because play is an essential part of human development.  And as society evolves so too should playspaces. In line with the concepts of universal design, playspaces are evolving and designers are improving as they go. Adventure playspaces are evolving too.

The recent move away from control and safety to adventure play offers plenty of room for creative designs. Recycled, natural or found materials rather than manufactured equipment allows for imaginative play.  It means a lot to parents to have an inclusive playspace for their whole family.

An article in Landscape magazine covers the topic of play and design features. It has several good examples to share although they don’t appear to be inclusive. Nevertheless, some of the landscape architects featured are making their designs more inclusive. The Evolution of Playspaces is an informative article for anyone involved in playspaces.

An article from Italy discusses the importance of adventure play and taking risks for children with disability.

An article from Denmark discusses the dangers of standardized playground equipment designed by adults with no input from children, who prefer to make their own play. You need institutional access for a free read.

Two small boys are crouched by the side of a pond and are reaching into the water. An example of the playspace adventure evolution..For more see a separate article on inclusive playspaces and the Everyone Can Play guide. 

See also Adventure play and children with disability for a research paper on the same topic.

No Obstacles in Playgrounds that are not only Accessible but also Inclusive is also a research paper. 

The Everyone Can Play website has a video where parents talk about what it means for their family to have an inclusive play space.

 

Playgrounds for all children

An empty wooden swing hangs over green grass.Inclusive play spaces are receiving more attention, but what equipment and design features are most suitable? Research in the US throws some light on this topic. Children, parents, teachers, landscape designers and equipment manufacturers all have a stake in the outcome. This means there are often gaps between what is required, what is available and what gets implemented. Building Playgrounds for Children of All Abilities looks at legal requirements and provides some useful recommendations. You will need institutional access for a free read. There is a useful reference list as well. 

There are several other good guides to inclusive play spaces including, Everyone Can Play published by the NSW Government.

Abstract: Schools and communities typically design and build playgrounds with little knowledge that the selected playground equipment meets the needs of children, caregivers, and teachers. In this article, the various categories of playgrounds are discussed and analyzed. The focus of this discussion includes an overview of the legal requirements and guidelines for school and community playgrounds, a description of prior research highlighting the inadequacies in currently available playgrounds, and an explanation of the trends in playground design over the years. We relate these topics to the need for universally designed playgrounds and a deeper commitment to designing playgrounds and play equipment that is empirically tested and meets the needs of all children, their teachers, and their families. By discussing practical examples and research findings to illustrate the gap between playground manufacturers and their play equipment and playground consumers, this paper serves as a meaningful resource for teachers and other stakeholders so they have the knowledge to advocate for their students with disabilities in playground endeavors. Taking recent research findings into account, we provide a vision for playground policy change.  

Playgrounds and mental health

Four children are in an open space with buildings in the background. They are jumping in the air and holding hands .Access to play spaces can improve mental well-being as children grow up according to an article by Alice CovattaShe argues that there is a connection between lack of play and the rise of mental health conditions.

The way we design our urban areas has an impact on play in outdoor locations and this in turn either encourages or discourages play. The article expands on these concepts and uses case studies to highlight the issues and the solutions and introduce play as sustainable design. The article comes from the latest edition of Urban Design and Mental Health, which has several interesting articles.

NSW Government has published a guide to taking a universal design approach to play spaces, Everyone Can Play.