Modern playgrounds: the benefits to custom design
Modern playground design has evolved from the simple monkey bars of the past to distinctive and inclusive spaces that inspire a new generation of outdoor playgoers.
Why are we experiencing an exponential increase in custom-designed playground requests from landscape architects and developers?
Play is versatile. In the book, A Playworker’s Taxonomy of Play Types, playwork theorist Bob Hughes identified 16 different types of play. Yet, traditional playgrounds cater for only a few play types such as mastery of equipment like monkey bars or climbing frames. Today, there is a real drive in the industry to inspire and engage children, encouraging learning and growth through shared play experiences. Clients are looking for innovation in their play elements that cater to a breadth of ages, abilities and types of play, resulting in genuine play value that encourages people to return time and again.
What challenges are landscape designers facing when considering parks and their play value?
Recently, the University of Melbourne ran a Future Park Design Ideas Competition in partnership with the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects (AILA). Most revealing were the questions asked of emerging landscape architects, urban designers, architects and planners, including “What is the role of the park in 2050? How can parks shape the urban form? Should parks be designed at ground level or are other spatial locations possible?”
Designers of tomorrow’s parks and play spaces face a breadth of challenges including, as outlined in the competition, “…climate change, shifting demographics and density of the city, Reconciliation, biodiversity and evolving concepts of publicness and community.” Add to this restrictive and unusual site shapes, and the emerging trend to create a space that not only offers the user play value but doubles as public art for developments, communities or retail spaces and it’s easy to see why designers are increasingly moving away from off-the-shelf play equipment to custom pieces.
Where does Tilt draw its inspiration from for custom-designed playgrounds?
Inspiration for play space innovation can come from many sources, including collaboration with the local community, the natural environment, physical characteristics of the site itself or even the choice of materiality to be applied. We look to surprise and delight children and adults and create a flow that leads them to explore the play space safely and with ease. Our recent custom-designed Liquorice Allsorts Playground project for JQZ in conjunction with Arcadia paid homage to the old Darrell Lea Chocolate Factory that once occupied the site on Rocky Point Road. The result is an artistic and unique space with interconnected, modular ‘Liquorice Allsorts’ that create an exciting path of play.
What are some key custom playground design considerations for landscape architects?
A substantial consideration in the design process is safety and designing for a broad range of ages and abilities for maximum inclusivity. Designers must also take into account the likely whole-of-life cost associated with the installation. In many instances, the final owner of the equipment may not be the same entity that commissioned the works, so long-term maintenance costs and performance should be considerations.
How can using a single Industrial Designer such as Tilt above multiple equipment suppliers help set and maintain safety standards?
There is a complex Australian Standard that must be followed, and certification must be obtained post-installation. Safety and maintenance of equipment is a priority, and combining multiple play elements from a variety of suppliers to achieve a custom design can result in ongoing issues with compliance and warranty.
As demonstrated in our Liquorice Allsorts Playground, a single supplier of construction methodology need not influence the selection of materials and overall design. As Industrial Designers, we undertake comprehensive studies and then create a detailed design that is not tied to a single method of fabrication or installation but instead addresses the needs and desires of the client and community. We then deliver the custom-designed architectural playground using a range of materials, manufacturing options and technology solutions before managing the supply and installation. Once complete, we provide ongoing maintenance and playground warranty to ensure long-term peace of mind.
For more information about Tilt’s end-to-end architectural playground solutions, get in touch with our team on +61 2 9966 8867 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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