Tuesday, November 30, 2010

As winter is upon us... how do YOU celebrate snow and ice??!!

Last week we had what I'll call an ice storm in Anchorage. The street in front of my house had enough ice on it that we could have skated... and I wanted to, but before we could get the motivation to get out there in the dark to try it, the snow started to fall (obscuring the ruts and ridges). A missed opportunity!

Search online for "Winter Play" or "Winter Playground" and you'll get some images of snow covered play equipment, or perhaps a ski area someplace in Vermont. While there's nothing really stopping us from playing on slides and play equipment in the winter (schoolgrounds definitely get used during recess), it seems like our public parks transition from activity on the playgrounds, to activity around them: skiing, snowball fights, building snowmen and snow forts, and kids snowboarding on the smallest slope (spending a lot of time walking back up to the top).

In cold climates, we embrace winter to varying extents, and success seems to lie in either providing facilities for the most common individual or small group activities (i.e. skiing), or programming to encourage people to get out and about. In a previous post, we highlighted the Fairbanks World Ice Art Championships. This is a successful example of truly embracing our winter climate, but it's also labor intensive and requires money to get in the gates.

We know how we like to design to encourage people to get out and enjoy winter, but we're more interested in how you get out to play... or the things you've seen that really celebrate the possibilities of winter. Please comment below and share with us!!!
...poor lonely play equipment...
Swings are always fun.
Fun on hills without grass stains.

En-Tyre-Ly Fun Playgrounds

En -tyre-ly Fun Playgrounds - James A. Jolley

PDF book that illustrates the construction of play structures and amenities out of tyres (or tires for us). Tyres/tires aside... this is a good resource to spur thinking about planning and design for play areas with universal appeal.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Pier 6 Playground, Brooklyn Bridge Park, NYC 2010

This past summer, a new destination playground which is part of the Brooklyn Bridge Park Project in NYC opened to the public and has been generating a buzz of public opinion.

Landscape Architecture & Play Design: Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates

New York Magazine "The harborside green is sectioned into four equally stupendous play areas: There’s Swing Valley, which includes Tarzan-style ropes and double-seaters; Slide Mountain and its thirteen-foot winding tube slide; a 6,000-square-foot Sandbox Village; and the Water Lab, with a moat, a domelike fountain, and a wading pool"

Brooklyn Bridge Park Master Plan
 Pier 6 Destination Playground is at the bottom of the plan

(click here) to visit the Brooklyn Bridge Park website

Friday, November 5, 2010

As Winter Approaches...

When designing play areas in Alaska (and any 'northern climate'), the winter months should always be an important discussion. We have a wide variety of climate areas, so winter in the Interior of Alaska could be frigid cold (-40 or colder) with not that much snow, in Southeast it could be wet and heavy snow with freezing rain, or in Southcentral we have the potential to experience both, but without the extremes. In the 'climate unfairness' of recess for Alaskan school children, their school year is composed of winter plus some shoulder season on each side... so for the sake of our schools, designing for winter is a necessity.

This post isn't so much about our opinions on good winter design... but showing some images of the more celebratory ways we embrace the season. We'll start with some from the 2009 Fairbanks International Ice Art Championships. They have some great areas with fun stuff for kids... and adults. This kind of play installation definitely requires a higher level of work to achieve... in addition to a source of amazingly clear ice. If you're in Alaska at the right time of year, this should be at the top of your list (Ice Alaska).

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Pop-Up Adventure Playgrounds

We just learned a new term in the idea of "Pop-Up Adventure Playgrounds"... as shown by this link (Pop-Up Adventure Playgrounds) and an event we held this past summer. It's fantastic to see what kids will come up with when you provide a whole bunch of loose parts. The reason for this event was to see what kind of ideas kids might have for the potential development of a playground, or just to see what they felt like making that day.

Urban Play: The Artists' Take

Play should be pervasive, persuasive and participatory.

An interesting article on a street-based design installation in Holland (organized by Droog Design). What spoke to me within this article were the installations that provided materials or otherwise required the viewer to become a participant, including a technology-based one where the bench was a bluetooth speaker. If someone sat down with bluetooth capability, they could use the bench to share their music with others around them.

I find this kind of article reassuring in that (providing that the powers that be are flexible enough to allow things to happen) we're (re)discovering new and interesting ways to engage and play... even as oldsters.

Article link: Urban Play

Thinking Inside the Box: An Architect Looks at New Models for Children's Space

An interesting article that discusses the use of conceptual models for playspace design, and offers some new ways to look at such design: the refrigerator box, the attic, the tree and the vacant lot.

We've found in our work that having the right conceptual imagery can be powerful in how a design develops. The power of the metaphor is that when you've found the right one, a kind of synergy emerges where the metaphor begins to spur new and rich ways to fill it out and expand it. While written relating to architectural spaces, the content of the article speaks well to what we do as landscape architects...

The link: Thinking Inside the Box

Being literal: refrigerator box (and kid) at an event we held

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Growing Backlash Against Overparenting

"How to begin to educate a child.
First rule: leave him alone.
Second rule: leave him alone.
Third rule: leave him alone.
That is the whole beginning"

D.H. Lawrence, 1918

by Nancy Gibbs (Time Magazine, Nov. 20, 2009)

Monday, November 1, 2010

Social media... making play better!

Another interest of ours is how social media might be able to make our world a better place. See this link #playoutdoors for an example of a news aggregator that takes hash tags and compiles them into a newspaper tailored to that interest!