Playground design is a serious business. The science of play is more complex than first meets the eye. It involves more than just choosing equipment from a catalogue pasting it into a landscape design.
Whether it be a play space within a school or public space, considering playground access, traffic flow, and equipment positioning is important when designing playgrounds. Getting these concepts right in the design stage helps create playgrounds communities love!
Here are some of the reasons why considering these concepts is important:
Reduce hazards and ensures the safety of children
Better play experience for children
More enjoyable place for parents and carers
Maintenance and extending life of the playground
Considering where and how playground users access a play space is important, especially when making your playground inclusive.
Provide easy and clear access. Signs and paths make it easy to identify where entry to a play space is. Using a firm surface at a playspace entry makes it easy for all ages and abilities to enter.
Ensure access points are in the best location to ensure you are introducing users and traffic into an appropriate position.
Parents with prams and wheelchairs users can find it difficult to access playgrounds via loose surfaces. Considering ramps and solid pathways to and throughout the playspace can accommodate these users.
Playspaces can be busy places with a lot of activity happening simultaneously. You need to consider how children move through a play space, especially where different age groups will be playing in the same area.
Consider where and how children may move through a play space. This can be done by identifying entry and access points on playground equipment. Try to minimise conflicts in traffic flow.
It is helpful to provide separate areas for senior and junior children. Juniors are less aware of their surroundings so ensure they don’t have to run through a senior space or past swings to access their area.
The location of the swings needs to be carefully placed. It’s best not to put them too close to the main access points and main pathways. Once a child is swinging it’s very hard for them to slow quickly, so positioning them away from high traffic areas minimises conflicts.
Each piece of playground equipment should be strategically placed within a play environment. This will improve your playspace in a number of ways, from the look for your playground to reducing maintenance. The most important of all these is complying with the Australian Standards
Ensure your project complies with all Australian Standards. Take account of impact areas and free spaces requirements of the playground equipment ensuring they don’t overlap with rocks, trees, or any other obstructions.
Design for easy supervision. Assess where supervisors will likely stand, sit, or rest and ensure there is a clear line of sight to where the playground is. Locating junior playgrounds closer to picnic areas or rest areas is a good way to do this.
Some playgrounds have a ‘front’ and ‘back’ with a more attractive side or angle to them. Face the most attractive side of the playground towards where the majority of traffic approaches for the best visual appeal.
Where possible, face slides south – away from the sun. This reduces the heat of the slide and fading.
Take into account where car parks or roads are in relation to your play space. You need to ensure children don’t run from the play space into an area of danger. Consider fencing where appropriate.
Consider shade. Use the current shade on a site to your advantage and place your playground equipment accordingly. Where more shade is needed, consider planting on the north and west sides of the play area.
Designing for easy maintenance is important. Ensure there is enough room for commercial mowers and maintenance personnel to move easily around the playground.
You want to create a design that limits ‘dead space’ within an area. The various pieces of equipment need to fit well together to make the best use of space.
We Take Play Seriously
We partner with many landscape architects and councils to help them play spaces. adventure+ has a huge range of playground equipment that is creative, engaging, and customisable.
adventure+ also offers free advice and design services for playgrounds. We partner with many of our landscape architect clients to do the play space design (with over 35 years’ experience, we do that best) and let them plug that into their landscape design (which they do best!).