Saturday, 3 January 2009
Playing AND Exploring -- Welcome shift in policy making
We always believed in it and sometimes had to fight hard for it: Playing and the need for exploring, creativity, challenge and adventure…and nature.
From our very first playground, Haggerston Park, we designed playspaces following these core beliefs. Now they are official…and being listened to! Increasingly clients request playgrounds, which follow the Play for England Guidance: Design for Play. This guidance emphasizes the need for children to play in natural environments, which provide a scope for discovery and re-interpretation. Play should be challenging and enriching.
We think this is an exciting and encouraging development, which will, aided by recently released funding streams, overhaul many British playgrounds in the very near future. Gone are the days of metal slapped on tarmac approach. Imaginative play, natural materials and more challenge is what is asked for.
In a current project, the Cranston Estate project, we took these objectives to the people from the very outset. To introduce the children to natural materials we went with into the grounds of the adventure playground and collected existing natural materials with which the children made their own explorative model proposals for the new playground. The objectives were to introduce the children to natural materials as well as to architectural processes, enabling them to understand and express their own ideas for the new playground or elements thereof. When we presented our concept design to the community during an event, we lured the residents into the green fringes of the site. Adventure trails led past improvised dens to the site where first design proposals were exhibited and consultation took place. The arrangement asked the community to explore and understand the existing in order to envisage the new. Whilst we consulted with older children and adult residents, a den building workshop engaged the younger ones.