The changing nature of children’s playgrounds over the decades has had to encompass not only the changing trends in playground equipment but also new ideas around health and safety. In some cases, the extent of this means that in some inner cities, equipment has been removed to help keep children safe.
However, play can never be entirely risk-free. Children will always need to play, to push themselves and to compete with others and, yes, they will sometimes injure themselves. Thankfully the more enlightened local authorities are collaborating with playground designers to ensure that playgrounds and playground equipment is not only safe but also fun, educational and challenging for older or more adventurous children. This is also the challenge for playground equipment designers like us
Working with Nature
The rapid expansion of towns and cities means that millions of children now live in heavily populated areas with little or no access to the natural world around them. Town and city planners realise that children need to have the opportunity to connect in some way with nature, and this is increasingly reflected in playground and playground equipment design.
Playground designers are turning away from old-style plastic, and metal equipment bolted into concrete wastelands. Instead, they are embracing natural playground equipment that is made from more sustainable and environmentally friendly natural wood and increasingly siting equipment within wooded and grassy areas. The natural playground equipment itself is designed to be stimulating and thought-provoking, often coming with information attached for children to read showing where the wood came from. Playground equipment goes through rigorous testing before a design is deemed suitable for use, and it manages to balance the need for safe, exciting play without entirely eliminating all risk.
Sustainability is now a key part of any modern design. A buyer is now better informed about sustainability and would expect any playground equipment supplier to do their upmost to supply equipment that is both durable and eco friendly.
Working with the surroundings
Going totally natural of course, doesn’t suit every circumstance. Sometimes injecting colour into the design helps to make playground equipment standout. Often an addition of colour brightens a space and makes it more welcoming. In a way playground has no restrictions on shape or form. This mean we can let loose and create bold and thought provoking designs that inspire and induce creativity. The creativity is one of the most important parts of children’s play
Play for All Ages
To help combat a growing obesity crisis, many local communities have got together with local councils to design and facilitate play areas where people of all ages can gather. One of the newest trends is to combine traditional-style children’s playground equipment with fitness equipment such as static bicycles, rowing machines or weights. Monkey bars, stepping stones and easily navigable obstacles can be used by families who enjoy playing and exercising together.
The very latest ideas in outdoor playground equipment use technology such as lights and sounds along with multi-sensory apparatus to stimulate motor and thinking skills in young children and improve coordination and reflexes. These work alongside physical activity to improve mental as well as overall health.
It is clear that city playgrounds are beginning to encompass more of the need for communities to come together and access the outdoors while ensuring local children have somewhere to safely play.