Spring is here! As the sun melts away the snow and ice, we'll once again emerge from our winter burrows, ready to fill our lungs with fresh air and soak up the light. That means parents and children will once again be returning to their favorite parks and play-spaces. Previously, Inhabitots took a look at some of the coolest green playgrounds around the world, and now we're back with more. This time, we're shining the spotlight on unusual playgrounds -- those places that feature designs, equipment, and locations that make them accessible to all types of kids --encouraging young and old to use not only their muscles, but also their imaginations to have fun. Do you know of a playground that belongs on this list? Share it with us in the comments!
According to a study by Karolinska University Hospital, obesity among seven year-olds in Stockholm has increased from 8.5% to 21% over the last fifteen years. We’d like to think that this unusual playground near Trekantssjön (Trekants Lake) on the island of Liljeholmen is meant to reinforce positive food choices while children play. Visitors to this small park will find a banana slide, strawberry spinners, cherry swings, an orange see-saw and a watermelon jungle gym. None of the info we found explained the “scent” part of the park’s name, however. Perhaps some of the equipment is scratch and sniff?
Upon first glance, this may look like just another playground, but it’s not. The difference is that almost every aspect of this two-acre park has been designed for access by all children, even those with physical disabilities. Lowered monkey bars provide easy access. Instead of stairs or ladders, ramps lead up to the elevated play components. Pathways between equipment are wide and colorful, and the ground surfaces are non-slip and porous designed to provide a greater level of access for children. In 2010, Friends of Clemyjontri successfully raised enough money to purchase and install Virginia’s first Liberty Swing, a swing which allows wheelchair users the experience of swinging without having to transfer from their wheelchair.
This public park in Battery Park City may be small, but it certainly makes the most of the space. Designed by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, a New York City landscape architecture firm, the park was built to be sustainable by mimicking a northeastern forest. Visitors will find prominent rock outcroppings, geologic formations, a secret path, and a bluestone ice wall. Kids will enjoy the huge slide, sandboxes, water play areas, a reading space with rock seats, and places to rock hop.
Designed by BASE Landscape Architecture, this is another play structure that provides a lot in a small space. Located on a high-pitched slope, the playground area is a climbing course with different inclinations for different levels and varying age groups. The park creators “used an array of design elements, resembling a flying carpet, medieval defenses, part of a pirate ship, and more. But Belleville’s crowning achievement is situated at the park’s highest point, ready to be used once the rest of the playground has been conquered: it’s a tree house,” explains Early Childhood Ed.
What good is a playground if it doesn’t inspire adventure? This award-winning playground is full of different play areas that trigger imaginative play, from the flying fox, spiral slide, and giant wave slide to the monorail and maze. And if you still want more, why not cross the drawbridge to explore the castle or jump aboard to captain the ship?
Monstrum is a Danish company that specializes in products for play, specifically playgrounds. Any one of their whimsical projects could have been featured in this post, but something about Brumbleby struck a chord. “Brumleby is one of Copenhagen’s architectonic culture gems… The objective of the playground is to add an element to Brumleby that would reflect the nature of the neighbourhood as well as turn everything topsy-turvy,” write the designers. The Brumleby playground consists of three houses, and a baker and an ice-cream booth — all of which look like they’ve been through a fun house mirror. There are climbing grips on the walls, slides from the windows, and balancing lanes from house to house — no surface is off limits for play!
If there’s one thing that both terrifies and delights young children, it’s the idea of monsters. In 2009, MAD Architects’ took the imagining a step further, wondering what it would look like if a 10 story monster tiptoed through an open field at night. The monster would undoubtedly leave behind footprints, and maybe, just maybe, the village children would play in them when the sun rises. The result of this imagining is a play park made up of sunken “monster footprints.” Paved in pink EPDM material, the footprints provide a safe place for children to play barefoot. Images: Stockholm4Kids, Fairfax County, Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, Landezine, peripitus, Monstrum, ArchDaily/MAD Architects, Carlwwycoff