In the world of paediatrics and child development, we can find numerous papers that stress the importance and benefits of play in promoting healthy children. With child obesity on the rise throughout the Western world, it is more important than ever to get children off the couch and moving around. Whatever they do, it needs to be fun – so what types of playgrounds and play spaces are the most effective?
Science supports our intuitive knowledge that play is good for children, helping to develop social, motor and cognitive skills. Play also provides valuable emotional benefits, helping children to release stress and gain confidence. A community playground must continually engage, excite and challenge. We need to keep children engaged long enough to create play scenarios that feed their creativity while improving their interactions with other children, parents and carers.
Where to locate community play spaces
While there are no hard and fast rules for how large a playground needs to be, or where it is situated, any council looking to create a new playground should ensure the space feels safe. Avoid placing a playground:
- Directly next to a busy road
- In a secluded area where neither parents nor children will feel safe.
Wherever it is, the playground should be a beacon for the community.
Designing play spaces to suit the local environment
While individual play equipment might be well designed, if it doesn’t reflect the ethos of the surrounding area, it will look out of place.
Beautifully designed playgrounds not only attract the eye, but are also contextually appropriate.
Take, for example, the playground adventure+ built in Waverley Park, Melbourne. Located next to a football stadium, our designers incorporated elements of the stadium into the end design, allowing the playground to sit comfortably within the landscape and link to the history of the site.
Designing playgrounds that engage whole communities
While playgrounds are essentially for children, their overall purpose is greater.
Let’s face it: it is rare that a child will admit to an adult that they have had too much play time. The longer the visit, the more opportunity for children to engage with other children, deepen social skills such as sharing, and learn to manage conflict.
It is the parents and carers who decide how long the visit lasts. The more comfortable the playground is for the adults, the better the engagement.
Even small neighbourhood pocket parks can offer more than a brief respite from a busy day when all the elements are in place to keep parents and carers happy.
Designers take a holistic view, looking at elements such as:
- Easy access/pathways for prams, bikes, scooters
- Seating for parents and carers
- Inclusive play structures and textures
- Age-appropriate equipment
- Good sight lines through the play space for easy supervision
- Water fountains/bubblers
- Materials that reflect the ethos of the site
- Proximity to cafés or food trucks.
Big, bold and beautiful play spaces
While not all playgrounds are suited to bold colour, children are drawn to bright colours, which are visually stimulating and offer a shot of energy. Colour connects with their emotions and feeds their imaginations.
“Bold colour in playgrounds stimulates imaginations and connects with emotions”.
Ryan Blake, Playground Designer, adventure+
Children experience colour through their senses, which can be particularly pertinent for children with special needs. On the other hand, the playground must look right – it must look as though it is meant to be there, it shouldn’t clash with surrounding colours and styles.
How adventure+ helps
Through our long experience in designing, manufacturing and installing playgrounds for councils, we understand what underpins the creation of an engaging community playground.
The following are some of the many elements that we consider when designing engaging playgrounds:
The right colours
Yes, bold, primary colours act as a beacon to children but they are not appropriate in every context. Our designers consider the environment of the playground and act accordingly. These days, we can get powder coating in any colour of the rainbow, not just primary colours, to suit all types of environments and link to community branding.
The right materials
Steel is an ideal medium for colour, but there are also suitable playground plastics available with an impressive range of colours.
However, for a more rustic setting, or one that echoes other elements of the locale, we love timber. In this playground at Tintern School, we used symmetry+ timber system as a suitable foil for the rocks, trees and bark.
The right elements
Our designers can help you plan every element of a neighbourhood playground, from actual equipment and budgets to architectural styles in sympathy with the surrounding environment.
Need advice on creating an engaging community playground?
Call us today on 1300 237 587 and our consultants can guide and advise you.