Listen Up Playground Patrons and Playground Designers

I have a strange preoccupation. I keep a digital record of play that occurs vigorously and spontaneously on non-playground sites.  I also accumulate pictures of playgrounds where kids use play equipment in unintended- but often stimulating, sometimes horrifying – ways. I have pulled three examples from my “archives” and am showing them here. My hope is that these might give some clues to playground patrons and designers as to what is needed on American playgrounds. As a group, these three “snippets” illustrate some of essential ways that children could play, ways that are frequently not adequately addressed today on traditional playgrounds.

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High Design + Playability = Success

Treehugger.com recently wrote a snarky piece about a new play area in Lexington, MA. The editor of the site dismissed this structure, saying this “play equipment encourages kids to pretend they’re in a Dwell article.”

It sparked my interest. From the images, I thought I saw lots of opportunities for kid directed and variable free play and I began to wonder if we expect – perhaps even unconsciously demand- low caliber aesthetics in outdoor architecture for children?. Do we cynically assume minimal playabllity when good design provides an armature for child-centric activities?

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