Daniel Ewald, landscape architect MNLA

LAA250 – Site development, phase 2

In the second phase of the site development course we were supposed to use our analysis from phase one and based on it suggest specific plans for our focus group. We started off comparing our registrations of the established playgrounds and recreational areas with the information we had received from the children themselves, to get a clearer view on where it seemed to be an apparent lack of suitable spaces. At that time it occurred to us that simply counting the areas that needed additional facilitation and supply plans for them wasn’t going to cut it. We needed to study what the children really need and how they react to their environment to get a proper understanding of the matter before we could do anything close to planning. We proceeded to read articles and books on environmental psychology and outdoor education for children, while asking ourselves the question: What is a valuable playground for children?

What is a valuable playground?

Based on the research we did, our conclusions involved informing about four central core values we felt needed to be fundamental in the planning process of recreational spaces for children:

The safe playgroundThe safe playground: An important value that has set the standard for the vast majority of playgrounds – you have standardized elements that follows safety guidelines, the children have low risk of getting hurt while playing, and the playground itself are usually open and lucid, allowing control. Our studies pointed to the fact that children play everywhere – and keeping areas secure by for instance reducing traffic was a very efficient measure. All playgrounds needs to be planned with security in mind. We felt, however, that this value has in many ways overshadowed other important values, listed below.

The including playgroundThe including playground: More of a meeting place than a playground in itself, this values areas that includes children of various ages, rather than being centered around the youngest children. Our studies showed that children very often wish to be a part of a social setting, playing with not only their similarly aged friends, but also younger/older children and their parents. Elements that includes a wider age group could for instance be stages, various sorts of small games etc.

The creative playgroundThe creative playground: Based on the studies of outdoor education and inspired by among other things the adventure playground concept, the creative playground allows for building and shaping the surroundings. Such types of playgrounds have educational value, but also enhances fine motor skills. A natural setting more often than not supplies more than enough materials for creative play – children rarely need more than a supply of loose stones, sticks and leaves to create something.

The active playgroundThe active playground: The majority of children in our focus group are active in sports; it’s a given that there should be spaces suitable for such events.

After we had established these values and linked them up to the proper scientific research, we attempted to combine them in a draft plan for the center of Ås village. We explained that the values could be used as a basis for creating varied playgrounds with different programs and thus allowing for higher site specific identity where space was more limited, but that the values also could be combined in larger areas. In our draft plan we reconstructed the village center area, replaced some of the existing programs, and included new ones.

Draft plan of Ås centrum

Filed under: Analyses, Illustrations, Media, Studies

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Magasinet KOTE
BIM for landskap


November 2010
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