Beyond Chutes and Ladders! Trends in Play Space Design: Activity, Engagement, Involvement?
Posted: Tue, May 14, 2019
Presentation Title: Trends in Play Space Design: Activity, Engagement, Involvement?
HSW Qualification: Yes
Duration: 90 minutes
LACES/IACET Qualification: LACES 1.5 PDH ‐ IACET .2 CEU
"Boring playgrounds are just as likely to be abused as ignored.” “You can lead kids to a playground, but
you can't make them play.” “I like to play indoors, because that is where all the electrical outlets are.”
Likely you have heard this all before…
Parks today face the challenge of providing environments that will attract children and families to
engage, play and stay. To compete with indoor, more sedentary activities. In this session, we will
examine playground trends that create kid magnets, that facilitate multi‐generational interaction, or
signature playgrounds that tell a community story.
Sure, some will make a mad dash for the monkey bars and work up a sweat in five minutes. Others will
start a spontaneous game of tag, darting in and out of play structures to avoid the pursuer. But there
will always be kids who avoid playground equipment altogether because it either bores or intimidates
What role does good design play in society? How do you know it when you see it?
What goes into creating it? Is excellence ever easy?
Through these questions and examples from around the world, we will examine global trends and their
impacts on designing impactful playground environments today. Discussions will also focus on the
opportunities for stronger collaboration between playground designers and Landscape Architects.
Upon completion of this session, participants will be able to:
1. Identify leading trends in play space design and the external influences driving these trends.
2. Evaluate how innovative concepts can be applied to play space design
3. Site ways to specify new concepts and material choices…
I. Identify major societal issues and trends
a. Comparison of play environment design then and now
b. What’s changed and why
II. Relate specific trends to play environment design
b. Material Mix
d. Destination Parks and Playgrounds
e. Nature Inspired Design
f. Literacy in the Environment
g. Holistic Wellness Design
III. Best Practice Recommendations for success
a. writing specifications
i. RFP or Request for Qualifications
b. Collaboration with design team
c. Collaboration with contractors
Many parks today face the challenge of providing environments where all visitors can engage, with less
funding and fewer resources. One way is to create environments where all visitors can feel safe, secure
and fully engage in play, namely creating designs that fully embrace social equity and social
sustainability. Participants will be provided with current data on how the world population is aging and
encountering disabilities in all age groups. In this presentation, participants will be introduced to the
concepts of social sustainability as they apply in park and playground settings. Each component will be
defined in relation to universal design principles in recreational environments. Two case studies will be
presented illustrating how these park communities enhanced social equity and inclusion through
thoughtful design practices.
The presentation will show how this data supports the need for creating recreation spaces that support
these community members in a greater way. In particular, the use of universal design principles will be
embraced as a way to address this growing community need.
Ultimately, the most successful parks and playgrounds are those that provide users of all abilities a
sense of safety, security and inclusion. These are the environments where true inclusion happens and
community ownership is strong, resulting in a community resource that all will cherish, support and
protect. Participants will be provided with current data on how the world population is aging and
encountering disabilities in all age groups. The presentation will show how this data supports the need
for creating recreation spaces that support these community members in a greater way. In particular,
the use of universal design principles will be embraced as a way to address this growing community
need. Through illustrative examples and case study, participants will be introduced to the concepts of
social sustainability as they apply in park and playground settings.
Session Format: Presentation with group participation
Instruction Level: Intermediate
Universal Design Handbook, 2E by Wolfgang Preiser (Author) & Korydon H. Smith (Author,) 2010
Publication ‐ Articles
Vavik, T & Keitsch M M. Exploring relationships between universal design and social sustainable
development: some methodological aspects to the debate on the sciences of sustainability, Sustainable
Development, 2010, 18 (5): 295‐305.
Gossett A, Mirza M, Barnds AK, Feidt D, Beyond access: a case study on the intersection between
accessibility, sustainability, and universal design, Disability Rehabilitation Assistive Technology, 2009
World Population Prospects, The 1998 Revision, Volume II: Sex and Age. The Population Division,
Department of Economic and Social Affairs, United Nations Secretariat
Institute for Human Centered Design
Name: Michael Fingeroth
Title: East Coast Regional Manager
Company Name: Landscape Structures
Email Address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please RSVP to email@example.com by 3:00 pm on Monday, May 13th, 2019