I love the renovated South Park in San Francisco! It amazes even me to be writing this because I was a big fan of the old South Park and really did not expect to be cheering any changes. The prior version was wonderfully historic: it was dedicated to play and contained some terrific equipment pieces that Richard Dattner and Paul Friedberg had each designed in the 1970s. The updated version- which opened in September- is the work of Fletcher Studio and it represents the future. It is intergenerational with minimal fencing, has porous edges for easy accessibility, showcases plenty of seating and eating areas, and contains a standout piece of customized equipment that adults as well as children can enjoy at the same time.
Continue reading “How South Park is Changing Old Paradigms of Public Space”
Taking a cue from Richard Louv, I suggest that we consider “Nature Design Deficiency.” Nature playgrounds in the US usually have to be constructed– albeit that that is an oxymoron- or they can be naturally wild areas where the kids are left to be on their own. So far, we haven’t done a particularly good job with the former and we rarely see evidence of the latter.
While it has been hard to find exciting American areas for exploration of nature, Europe does not lack in excellent models. Two of the best, each distinguished by large expansive sites and opportunities for varied experiences, are the adventure playground in Valby Park (Copenhagen, 2001) designed by Helle Nebelong and the Environmental Education Center at Sloterpark (Amsterdam, 2012) designed by Carve. Nebelong called for an organizing circular boardwalk built from dead trees from the site. Nearby are multiple opportunities for scampering on other dead trees, playing in sand, hiding in dense brush, accessing a series of hillocks. Carve’s creation is particularly noteworthy for ways in which kids can play near streams and even ford them with variously arranged logs or sail over them on a zip line; they can run on a bridge over the water while being aware that there is a railing (for wheelchair accessibility) on just one side. Carve’s work gives children lots of chances to wander where animals nest and to get lost in deep brush or wade into thick swamps.
Continue reading “The Nature of Nature”