Playgrounds are going through a revolution, and in 2023 we can see that first-hand with playground design. These new spaces are about inclusivity, creativity, and connection. How we approach the creation and implementation of play spaces, has evolved to meet the needs of a more dynamic and engaged community within these areas. In this blog post, you’ll discover the top 6 trends in playground design redefining playtime for children and adults alike.
Inclusivity: Making Play Accessible to All
Playgrounds are spaces that everybody should be able to enjoy. Its main goal is to provide a safe and engaging space for children to play. The trend of inclusivity in playground design takes this further by ensuring that play areas are accessible to everyone. Children of all abilities are included in the design of play spaces.
This is not just a trend, but the reality and future of playgrounds as landscape designers and the community pushes for more inclusivity, creating areas for learning with a plurality.
There are many ways to make your playground design more inclusive; some of them are:
- Low-Play Equipment: Inclusivity can be achieved by implementing low-play equipment, which allows children of all abilities to engage and have fun. For example, low-mounted swings and slides enable easy access for children with mobility challenges.
- Safety Surfacing: Traditional wood chips might hinder accessibility for wheelchair users, making alternatives like wet-pour rubber an excellent choice. These surfaces are safe and provide smoother access to all the playground equipment.
- Landscape Design: Thoughtful landscape design ensures that all playground areas are accessible, such as having wide, smooth pathways that connect different play zones, allowing children of all abilities to move freely throughout the space.
Unprescribed Play: Fostering Creativity and Exploration
Unprescribed play is a groundbreaking playground trend that encourages children to think creatively and explore without boundaries. In playground design, this means providing structures that can be used in multiple ways, encouraging children to create play experiences.
You will see play areas with loose parts, movable objects, and structures that encourage problem-solving and collaboration. This trend in playground design emphasises the importance of creativity and adaptability, essential skills for the modern world.
From structures to surfacing, unprescribed play stimulates children’s imagination. They will be challenged to create rules and have fun while doing it. Some examples can be:
- Loose Parts and Movable Objects: Play areas equipped with items like building blocks, ropes, and wheels encourage children to create their play scenarios. These elements allow children to reconfigure the play space, challenging them to invent rules and games.
- Multifunctional Structures: Play structures designed for multiple uses, like climbing frames that can be transformed into forts or bridges, stimulate children’s imagination and problem-solving skills.
Intergenerational Play: Bridging the Age Gap
Playgrounds are no longer just for children. Intergenerational play is a rising trend that invites adults to play alongside the younger generation, creating more engagement and play value for the whole community. By including features like fitness equipment, comfortable seating, and interactive games, you make playgrounds appealing to all ages.
This playground trend fosters community bonding and helps to break down generational barriers. It’s not just about having fun; it’s about creating connections and understanding between generations. Some ways that designers can achieve this are:
- Fitness Equipment: Fitness stations that encourage adults to exercise while children play.
- Comfortable Seating: Strategically placed benches and seating areas encourage adults to stay and interact, fostering community bonding.
- Interactive Games: Games that children and adults can enjoy together, like life-sized chess boards, enhance the connection between generations.
Sensory play is a vital aspect of child development, and modern playground design is embracing this by creating environments that stimulate all the senses. You’ll find playgrounds with musical instruments, textured surfaces, and aromatic plants.
Implementing this in your playground design provides children with opportunities to explore, discover, and learn through their senses. Sensory play is not just enjoyable; it’s an essential tool for cognitive and emotional development.
Nature has always been a fantastic playground, and in 2023, playground design integrates natural elements into play areas. The use of natural materials, including gardens, and structures that are made with a natural look, such as timber, make the design co-exist with the surrounding environment.
Holiday parks and Councils can benefit from this new type of design. Nature play can make urban areas have a connection to the environment. Blending and creating breathing areas in cities and other communities. Holiday parks can integrate nature play into their design by replacing plastic playground equipment, with log jams, adventure play and towers that resemble the surroundings.
Sustainability is more than just a trend; it’s a necessity today. In the realm of playground design, there’s a growing focus on creating play spaces that are fun, engaging, and environmentally responsible.
The key is to use materials that have been used before and sourcing natural elements from sustainable sources. For instance, in nature play, playgrounds incorporate wood, stones, and other natural materials sourced responsibly to minimise the ecological impact.
Re-using materials is also a great way to go full circle. Tyres and other rubber materials can be recycled and used for playground surfacing. The project Sustainable Fun for Everyone converts waste into play spaces.
The playground design trends in 2023 reflect a society that values inclusivity, creativity, connection, and well-being. By embracing these trends in playground design, you help create spaces that will enrich the lives of children and adults for years to come. It’s not just about building playgrounds; it’s about shaping communities.
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