How to design public play areasPublished 18/07/16
One of the biggest challenges of designing public play areas, such as parks, is that it needs to appeal to children of all ages and abilities. As well as this, key safety measures need to be implemented to ensure all children using the play equipment remain safe and secure. While children are the focus of play areas, in public spaces provision need to made for adults supervising their children, such as adequate seating. With so many different factors needing to be taken into account, designing play areas in public spaces can be challenging, but using these tips will make the process much easier. Choosing the play equipment The play equipment chosen for public play areas need to be suitable for children of all ages. This means carefully choosing equipment that incorporate different ability levels within one equipment, such as multi-play units. As well as this, traditional playground equipment, such as swings and slides, are always popular in public play areas, just remember to install different types that are suitable for different ages. Safety factors Safety is paramount in public play areas as there are usually lots of children using the equipment at the same time. Add to this the fact that older and younger children are often using the equipment together, meaning there are lots of chances of falls and accidents happening. Ensuring that the appropriate safety surfacing is added and well-maintained is a must for public play areas, especially under any equipment that has a fall risk. As well as this, keeping equipment aimed at very young children away from ones that will be used mainly by older children will help to keep these two age groups separate. Keeping the area secure Along with safety, keeping the play area secure is vital. Not only does the security measures need to keep unwanted people from entering the play area, but also prevent children wondering off on their own. Good fencing will help to keep the area secure, preferably with a gate that can be kept closed to discourage unwanted people from entering the area. Choosing fencing that is brightly coloured or with a fun theme, will help to blend into the play area and not stand out as a security measure. Another important factor that needs to be taken into account for public play areas is that adults need to be able to supervise their children, either directly or from a distance, with ease. Ensuring that the play area is well laid out to allow adults to easily see what their children are doing from a distance is key to keeping children safe and secure. Provisions for adults While adults with very young children will want to stay with them while they play, those with older children will want to give them more independence and freedom, but still able to supervise them from a distance. Ensuring that lots of seating is installed, such as benches and picnic tables, will provide adults with a place to relax and talk while their children play. Also, if possible, having refreshment facilities close to the play area means that adults can sip on a cup of tea or coffee while their children have fun playing.