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How Landscape Architects Design Playgrounds

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    Have you ever wondered the process it takes to design a playground? They’re typically led by landscape architects – a profession full of quiet-achieving problem solvers!

    We teamed up with Toff Studio, who are a landscape architecture studio based in Sydney, but provide services nationally. They’re experts in playground design, outdoor fitness setups, residential design, pool design and public open space upgrades. They are passionate about sharing their knowledge! They have outlined the considerations and process to design and deliver a typical playground below.

    Accessible, all-abilities and inclusive play

    Modern playgrounds are designed to be inclusive. Landscape architects incorporate elements that cater to children of all abilities. This is done through consideration of surface treatments and a variety of equipment that has a range of benefits. This includes selecting different equipment to introduce physical, imaginative, sensory, social, cognitive and nature play.

    Beyond the play equipment, play space designs also integrate seating areas, shade, walking paths and other amenities to encourage children and parents to play and stay longer in a safe and healthy environment.

    A well designed playground should have something for everyone, not everything for everyone.

    Inglis Park Playground in Newmarket slides and climbing play

    Incorporating nature play

    Nature play is the incorporation of natural materials and equipment within a play space. This can include materials and matter like timber, boulders, plants, level changes, water, sand and other landscape elements. These often provide a variety of challenges through climbing, balancing, problem solving, imagination and becoming familiar with different textures.

    When it comes to playgrounds in highly metro areas, nature play within a playground might be the only chance a child gets that resembles the solitudes of nature. It can provoke calming and variable emotions from typical surroundings.

    Maritime Cove nautical theme ship adventure playground

    Playground theming

    Adding a theme to a playground is a fantastic way to create a memorable playground. As well as this, it can enhance creative play and encourage expression and curiosity in children.

    Theming can be implemented in a number of ways, depending on the size of the playground. It could include small detailed gestures to be explored, or a whole play space that creates a new world for children to play in.

    Popular playground themes include nautical, trains, castle, dinosaur, space, mythical, or embrace the history and former use of the site.

    Walter Gors Park playground slides and cubbies in Dee Why

    Safety and compliance with Australian Standards

    Landscape architects are aware of Australian Standards that must be designed and constructed to, to ensure safety among users. These include things like surfacing, spacing between elements and heights to design to.

    While Australian Standards are met; it is important to create play spaces that develop gross motor skills and promote the ability to assess and take risks.

    Simpson Park Playground artist recycled play equipment

    Final word

    So, the next time you visit a playground, take a moment to appreciate the thoughtful design behind it. From safety considerations to developing a variety of skills and behaviours, it is often a team of landscape architects who have designed the space with a greater intent that what meets the eye!

    We encourage you to get in touch with Toff Studio if you need assistance with outdoor design or approvals (landscape CDC or DA) – they’re incredibly friendly and knowledgeable at providing you with a solution.

    *Images of playgrounds showcased in this article were provided by PLAYMAPPED. Toff Studio does not claim any ownership or involvement in the photos or projects showcased. They have been provided for demonstration purposes.

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