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An Introduction to Modern Playscapes

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In honor of our family themed July/August issue, we've invited guest writer Paige Johnson, who spearheads the blog Playscapes, to share her perspective on some of the most innovative contemporary design targeted to kids. Week 1: An Introduction to Modern Playscapes.
 

From playgrounds that derive inspiration from nature to pop-up urban installations, spaces for play are transitioning away from traditional manufactured solutions—ie. the ubiquitous plastic and/or metal jungle gyms one spies at most playgrounds—and getting the attention they deserve as exciting design opportunities. I use the term playscapes to highlight sites that move beyond the playground fence to become total landscapes for play.

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  By using only safety surfacing and equipment in a naturalized garden space, Stoss Landscape Urbanism designed a springy playscape that also comments on our obsession with playground safety (gotta watch those trees).Image courtesy of Stoss Landscape Urbanism.
    By using only safety surfacing and equipment in a naturalized garden space, Stoss Landscape Urbanism designed a springy playscape that also comments on our obsession with playground safety (gotta watch those trees).Image courtesy of Stoss Landscape Urbanism.
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  In the work of Danish firm Monstrum (translation: monster), slightly surreal "storyscapes" of shipwrecks, beasties, and tilted houses provide a sense of thrill and danger that kids crave but playgrounds usually lack.Image courtesy of Monstrum.
    In the work of Danish firm Monstrum (translation: monster), slightly surreal "storyscapes" of shipwrecks, beasties, and tilted houses provide a sense of thrill and danger that kids crave but playgrounds usually lack.Image courtesy of Monstrum.
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  A playscape doesn’t have to be a separate plot of ground. Julian de Smet Architects turned the roof of a boat storage facility into a skating and sliding landscape for play.Image courtesy of JDS Archtects.
    A playscape doesn’t have to be a separate plot of ground. Julian de Smet Architects turned the roof of a boat storage facility into a skating and sliding landscape for play.Image courtesy of JDS Archtects.
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  Playscapes are an amazing but often overlooked venue for artists. Toshiko Horiuchi-MacAdam constructs large, interactive crochet nets that provide a totally unique play experience at several sites in Japan. This is an installation at the Hakone Open Air Museum.Image via Kids Web Japan.
    Playscapes are an amazing but often overlooked venue for artists. Toshiko Horiuchi-MacAdam constructs large, interactive crochet nets that provide a totally unique play experience at several sites in Japan. This is an installation at the Hakone Open Air Museum.Image via Kids Web Japan.
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  The idea of the natural playscape—creative combinations of rocks and stumps, sand and water—is a huge trend in playground design at the moment.  When applied carefully these can reduce construction costs, and the ideas are equally accessible (though on a smaller scale than this massive tree trunk!) for at-home family play.Image courtesy of space2place Landscape Architects.
    The idea of the natural playscape—creative combinations of rocks and stumps, sand and water—is a huge trend in playground design at the moment. When applied carefully these can reduce construction costs, and the ideas are equally accessible (though on a smaller scale than this massive tree trunk!) for at-home family play.Image courtesy of space2place Landscape Architects.
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  The giant seesaws at Tilla Durieux Park in Berlin work beautifully as both sculpture and play equipment, not to mention science lesson. Integrating play into public art helps bring it out of the defined space of the playground and into the city itself, for children and grown-ups alike.Image by A.J. Torri.
    The giant seesaws at Tilla Durieux Park in Berlin work beautifully as both sculpture and play equipment, not to mention science lesson. Integrating play into public art helps bring it out of the defined space of the playground and into the city itself, for children and grown-ups alike.Image by A.J. Torri.
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  A natural addition to the idea of pop-up stores, parks, and restaurants is the pop-up playscape. It lets kids do what they love: make their own spaces for play!Image via popupadventureplay.org.Don't miss a word of Dwell! Download our  FREE app from iTunes, friend us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter!
    A natural addition to the idea of pop-up stores, parks, and restaurants is the pop-up playscape. It lets kids do what they love: make their own spaces for play!Image via popupadventureplay.org.

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