Taking Play Seriously is our motto, mantra, and mission. It’s at the forefront of everything we do, how we do it, and why we do it. It’s what sets us apart, and what sets good playgrounds apart from poorly designed ones. The concept itself centers on the importance of play in all aspects of a child’s healthy and holistic development.
We believe that while play should always be fun and free, serious consideration, planning, and design should go into making it that way. Serious consideration means seriously positive outcomes and real results.
When thinking about the ‘Taking Play Seriously’ concept, it’s important to also note that we’re not just talking about any play. This concept not only creates but prioritises play that fosters development in children without ever sacrificing or inhibiting the element of fun or the child’s experience.
Taking Play Seriously is far from just being a catchy tagline. To dive a little deeper into the concept we’ll explain what we call the four quadrants. This model splits the concept into four key areas. These key areas each have their own focus and effects, but also overlap. This model allows us to consider all corners of a child’s development, the ways in which they can be encouraged, and the benefits of doing so.
These quadrants allow us to really zero in on areas that are important to parents, teachers, and caregivers, to truly understand how important play is for children.
This model also allows us to understand where there are opportunities to improve for happier, healthier, socially adept children; as well as understanding the risks and implications of failing to do so.
Preserve – Mind
This quadrant centres on the joys of childhood and parenting alike. Watching childlike innocence, curiosity, energy, and imagination foster confident, social, happy, and healthy children. We believe these aspects of one’s childhood should never be disrupted. At adventure+ these are the things we want to preserve.
A child needs to grow and interact with the world, their peers, and their own sense of self. This is achieved by striking a balance between encouraging necessary development without inhibiting the quality of play and maintaining these childlike characteristics.
Preserve – Body
The next quadrant focuses on the physical and most obvious or immediate effects of play area design. Physical safety is where we adventure+ always begin. Before mental and emotional safety, the physical safety of all our equipment and designs is paramount. Poor design and lack of consideration can lead to trauma and injury for children. This quadrant allows us to build a safe foundation in our play spaces for children to have fun and parents to rest assured their children will be safe and happy in doing so.
Improve – Mind
When it comes to fostering childhood development and play-based learning, improving the mind is the most important quadrant. Where some see play equipment to keep children busy, we see the tools to empower children and set them up for their adult lives. Through challenging and imaginative play, children strengthen their social skills, problem-solving skills, and more. This developmental phase is crucial, as is designing play areas that add to all aspects of it.
Improve – Body
In a new era of consumption, ensuring children stay physically healthy and active is important. Since things like technology and fast food have become a huge part of our culture, keeping kids active and outdoors is one of our main focuses. While mental development is encouraged and improved by well-designed play equipment, a child’s physical health also has the power to either limit or help support a child’s development. A healthy, active child can concentrate, socialise, and set themselves up for a longer healthier life.
The combined positive benefits that each quadrant allows us to integrate into our work and thus children’s development empower children to build strong foundations that turn them into well rounded, happy, healthy, adults.
This holistic approach means one skill or quality is not favoured over another. All aspects are equally considered and equally encouraged.
To combine all these elements and actualise them into space where children can play, learn, explore, and grow we focus on a few key aspects.
As previously mentioned, ensuring a sense of safety in space is important. First children need to feel safe enough to venture and play on their own. This means ensuring the physical equipment will reduce hazards and risk of injury, and giving children a place where they can be supervised from a safe distance without feeling controlled.
Children should feel as though they have control over their playtime. Learning to make their own decisions as well as cooperate with their peers will help them develop confidence.
Challenge and risk is another way we bring these quadrants to life. Ensuring there is a healthy amount of challenge and safety risks involved means that children will get the most out of their play. Involving the five senses is another great way to ensure the needs of each quadrant are met. This keeps play exciting and stimulating for children.
When it comes to the design of successful play space we know there is never a one size fits all formula. No user group, council, school, site, landscape architect, or project is the same. Therefore, we focus on tailoring and customising each playground to best meet the specific needs of each project. Tailoring our projects ensures we can provide the desired results for everyone involved.
This allows us to navigate site restraints and user groups with special needs so that everyone has the chance to learn, develop, and grow, no matter where they play and who they are.
With each project, we undertake we follow a set of good design principles in order to honor best practices in all our work. These principles and considerations include; considering traffic flow, positioning, site limitations or specifications, standards compliance, user group/age appropriation, and material considerations relating to the location and needs of the project.
The team at adventure+ has real-life, hands-on experience. We know what works and what doesn’t.
As you can see, behind any good playground comes a great deal of thought and consideration. We’re serious about providing children, schools, councils, and parents with the tools to foster children through their stages of development into happy, healthy, adults.