Massachusetts Architect Merges Play with Design

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A Massachusetts-based architect has found a beautiful way to merge fun play with stylish design elements, by building a play structure that encourages children to crawl, jump and even fly.

The playground comprises wood-clad spaces that offer a beautiful blend for children in the Massachusetts suburb. The children get interactive play activities which involve scurrying through, clambering over as well as zip-wiring to derive the kind of amusement any youngster can come to love.

The emphasised design of the playground was designed by Matter Design Studio’s Brandon Clifford and the FR|SCH Projects’ Michael Schanbacher. The designer and architect are well known for their other impressive projects. The Five Fields Play Structure joins the list of amazing designs they have finished.

During the 1950s, The Architects Collaborative (TAC) established a mid-century modern development, which is what neighbours the new play structure located on land shared by Lexington’s Five Field’s residents. TAC created the neighbourhood as an experiment, while the community, requested a new play structure that was safe and refreshing to children be built as a way to keep the experimental spirit alive.

According to the duo, the needs of the community were to have a space to challenge their children and help them to grow through play, made with functional components. Clifford and Schanbacher involved the playground’s most important prospective users, consulting local children during the structure’s design process.

A series of cuboid sections, clad in timber of a similarly light colour, form the structure which sits on a sloped site. The series of components slot together and are connected at various points, making use of ropes for routes through them. The children have to conquer their way through these rope obstacles.

Not content to stop there, the designers included a 20 metre (66 feet) long zip-wire that starts at a jump-off provided by one of the box elements. Another box makes up a tall lookout. Since the structure is on a slope, it cantilevers at its end and hence a shelter is made underneath. Children can manoeuvre the play structure with ease due to its scale. Adults can also access the play area should the children need any assistance.

Schanbacher and Clifford said that designing a play structure for children is not their usual project. They admitted they found it a challenging task, seeking to balance style, accessibility and function. Another designer Johanna Lobdell, provided colourful graphics for suggesting possible entrances. This is done without limiting any particular section of the structure.

The employment of design on the play area makes it appear like a real adventure game similar to arcade video games. Interesting entrances made of vertical tubes where children can shimmy through to the top or pull themselves onto a ledge are found on the graphics suggested entrances, with some architectural sections such as doors and stairs acting as a decoy and leading to nowhere.

According to the duo, the decisions made by the children produced escalating challenges for them, pushing them to find ways to control risks and make sure the new play area was accessible across age-ranges.

Overall, it looks like they’ve done a great job, and we’re always inspired to see designers who set a standard for outdoor playgrounds and what they can offer.