Creating Playgrounds That Are Different

The Playground

Besides thinking about roads and streets (which is tiring), I’ve been thinking about playgrounds, play areas and parks lately. I have a lot to learn on this subject and it’s exciting to think about what we could do with a little investment.

Soon, the parks and recreation commission will be diving into what the natural play area designed into the bayfront plan includes and looks like. As well, the parks and recreation commission would like to see our neighborhood parks have more activity. For most of them, an equipment and landscape facelift is in dire need.

I’m asking, how creative can we be?

As such I’m brainstorming and researching what other places are doing and as far as playgrounds, the concept has expanded way beyond slides and pre-fab equipment. But, not to the loss of things like a slide. Check out these hill slide images via Play Enthusiast.

Hill slides are great because they expand the use of a slide and allow for creative impulses for children. It’s no longer climb up, slide, down, repeat. With a slide built on a hill, the entire area becomes a place for play and can be an attractive addition to a parks landscape. Just one idea that I’d like to see thrown into the TC Parks tool box. (Note to self: do we have a toolbox? Build a tool box.)

The Clinch Park Natural Playground/Playscape

We are really going to need to get this right! This topic needs another, longer post in the future because there are many different ideas about what is and isn’t a natural playscape. Still, I couldn’t help seeing possibilities for the Clinch Park space with this image from The Playground Enthusiast.

It’s not too difficult to imagine the pulled back scene and how that might fit into the space at Clinch Park. Something where children, teens and adults can walk along rocks, play in sand and explore. If no one is there, what is there can be landscaped into an attractive area. These areas can also be universally designed to allow access for everyone. And, of course, the bayfront plan calls for a brook and will certainly need to be more attractive than the area above.

These are a few images and concepts that I wanted to share. If you’ve seen anything creative going on in parks that you’ve visited, please let me and/or the parks and recreation commission know. We meet the first Thursday of every month at 6:30 at the Governmental Center. Also, leave a quick comment with a link here.

NOTE: Any opinions expressed here are mine alone. I cannot speak for other commissioners or the commission on things other than items expressed in our goals and objectives.

  1. Ashlea
    March 24, 2011 at 3:12 pm

    Very excited about the natural playgrounds, Gary! Can’t wait to see something like this at Clinch. Perfect fit I think.

  2. Elizabeth Dell
    March 24, 2011 at 9:52 pm

    I love these natural playgrounds and what I’ve seen at the Playscapes blog. Very beautiful. This post reminds me of an article I read in The New Yorker about David Rockwell’s (New York architect) take on playgrounds. He developed the Imagination Playground at Burling Slip. Here’s a link, http://imaginationplayground.org/. It certainly has some challenges (lots of loose parts that need to be kept track of, supervision required?), but it’s an interesting concept and I love how interactive it is, and as they say, “child-directed.”

    Gary, I enjoy and appreciate the range of topics you cover here. Thanks!

  3. June 21, 2011 at 4:20 pm

    Thanks for the mention! We are always trying to work with the existing landscape or to make new mounds and contours with creative play at the center of the design. We think beauty and function go hand and hand. Keep us posted on your progress.

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