Open-Ended Play: Structures that Inspire Imagination
Playgrounds of the 21st century are breaking the rules of traditional play. They're comprised of so much more than rudimentary equipment that can be used in one way; slides that go down and swings that move back and forth. Designers are embracing the concept of open-ended play, enabling children freedom of thought, movement and expression, unencumbered by the restrictions of outdated equipment.
Open-ended play structures come in all shapes and sizes, and can be explored by children of all ages and abilities. Most importantly, there are no rules or expectations. Open-ended play equipment allows children to jump, climb, roll, crawl, balance and pretend. Imagination is the key component, making play possibilities limitless!
Read on for a roundup of our favorite open-ended play structures that stimulate imagination and promote inclusive play in fresh and exciting ways! You can also search 'playgrounds' on CADdetails.com for additional inspiration.
Woods of Net (architectuul), Tezuka Architects, Japan
Located at the Open-Air Museum and housed within a wood pavillion is a hand knitted net structure created by Japanese artist, Toshiko Horiuchi Macadam. The nets are arranged at different levels to create platforms, resting and play areas designed for children to crawl, roll around and jump on engagingtheir imaginations through free-form play. The artists' goal was to design a space as soft as the forest where the boundary between outside and inside disappears. The space attracts people like campfire. The children play inside of the net just as fire and parents sit around and lay on the woods.
Blaxland Riverside Park (landezine), JMDdesign, Australia
Blaxland Riverside Park located at Sydney Olympic Parklands makes extensive use of landform to house a variety of play experiences and elements that caters to the entire family. Nestled into dramatic cuts in the landform are tunnel slides, climbing walls, a suspended climbing net, tree house and sand and water plaza to name a few. The playground features are grouped into two areas to create a play zone with high energy elements and one for more passive play. In addition to the playground, Blexland Riverside Park also boasts a new parking garage, amenities building, and large grass area perfect for picnicking.
Belleville Park Playground, Paris, France
Architecture firm BASE incorporated ideas from both children and adults in the planning stage of this play space to create a multi-generational playground. The finished product consists of a playhouse with a climbing course that can be described as a mash up of mountain landscape, flying carpet, medieval fortification and pirate ship rails, allowing children to let their imaginations run free with make-believe scenarios. At the park's highest point, parents have a complete view of the playground with the Eiffel Tower in the distance.
Sculptural Playground, Schulberg (landezine), Wiesbaden, Germany
The Wisbaden “schulberg” retrofit designed by ANNABAU has revived the playground that overlooks the heart of this German city. The pentagonally shaped spacial structure consists of two rings of varying height and distance from each other. The rings are connected with climbing rope, creating a loop. Within the loop are six other active play elements including bouncing membranes, a climbing wall and swinging rope ladders. Its unique design offers active challenges for all ages and abilities, as well as resting spaces for teens and adults. The “schulberg” has reinvigorated this community space and given new life to a forgotten part of town.
Boadilla del Monte Playground, Boadilla del Monte, Spain
The playground in Boadilla del Monte in Spain was designed to incorporate an outdoor, open space that integrated the existing playground, pavilion, and sloped grassy field. The new canopy, by architects Eduardo Navadijos and Csaba Tarsoly, consists of channel-beams which overlap along the length of the structure, channelling rain and providing protection from the sun. The use of color enhances the open, airy, and shaded space, creating an architecturally impactful design that encourages free and open play for children.