When we think of children’s playgrounds, we tend to think of the typical swing and slide set-up, with several pieces of equipment dotted around an enclosed area. But a playground doesn’t necessarily have to involve expensive outdoor play equipment. It doesn’t have to involve any equipment at all, for that matter.
Playscapes are areas that have been designed specifically for play, but the main focus is on an interaction between children and their setting, rather than the actual play equipment. These landscape architecture projects are designed to reflect the natural surrounding environment. They could include paths, rocks, trees, grassy mounds and shelters.
By interacting with these features, children are encouraged to play in a more creative way as they enjoy the vitality of their surroundings and draw on their imaginations to create a world of their own. This makes playscapes a lot more exciting than your average playground, and allied with this, they’re versatile enough to include all ages in the fun. Here are some of our favourite playscape designs from around the world.
The Pulse Park, Denmark
This multipurpose playscape lends itself to a wide variety of activities. Surrounded by a mountain bike and BMX track, the asphalt surface of the path flows into the centre of the zone in the form of hills, bulges and bowls. The playscape can be used by cyclists, runners, and children as an obstacle course.
Northala Fields, Greater London
Built on top of four huge mounds, Northala fields was built with sustainability in mind. Sticking with the theme of rolling hills, the playscape embraces the varying heights and levels, encouraging children to be imaginative and challenge themselves as they enjoy climbing and jumping from one mound to another.
The Rampart Wave, Lyon
This huge wooden playscape was built on the site of old French military barracks dating back to 1830. Standing at a whopping 50 meters long and 7 meters high, the playscape has been purposely made to resemble the historic rampart. The playground plan is extremely complex, with a series of concealed passageways and alcoves leading from different entrances and countless ways to reach the slides. It was designed to encourage children to take more risks when they play.
The Dream City, Qatar
Sand play is one of the most intriguing forms of sensory play for young children, and the vibrant colours of this colourful expanse make it simply irresistible. Children are encouraged to walk barefoot through the playscape to experience the different weights, textures and patterns that come with each type of sand. The playful landscape is designed to capture children’s imagination as they experiment with form and colour.
Billie Holiday Playground, The Netherlands
Built in a previously unused and neglected space, this brightly coloured playscape was designed to resemble the shape of a hill. Because of its continuous, fluid-like form, the sculpture merges into one large play object that’s suitable for all ages and ability levels. With features such as built-in trampolines and tunnels, children are continually entertained.