Dec 15

5 Considerations When Designing a Community Park Playground

Public park playgrounds are important places for building a sense of community and social belonging. They are spaces that belong to everyone, regardless of age, gender, ability or socioeconomic factors. The design of a park can have a direct impact on people’s perceptions about the park or playground and their willingness to use a space.

Let’s look at five important factors to consider when designing a community park playground.

Entryways and Signage

First impressions matter. The entrance has a significant influence on both the appearance and functionality of the community park playground. You want to put your best foot forward in presenting this location as welcoming and inviting to all guests, and available for everyone to use and enjoy.

Entrances signify a point of access and need to be clearly visible with the appropriate signage for park rules, hours and other necessary information. Decide on a style of entry that compliments the design of your space. Entryways to community parks can coordinate or be done in conjunction with the theme of the playground equipment or appear more natural by design. Some entryways may want to add elements of art, murals or graphics that are relevant or have a significance to the project or location.

Whatever style you choose, you will want your guests to feel welcome and excited for what’s to come. And most importantly, you will want them to return again and again.

Consider Your Community Playground Space

Location. Location. Location. Building a park playground always starts with identifying the location. There are several things to consider when looking at your space. The physical characteristics of your space will have the largest impact on your design.

  • Topography – will determine how you layout certain aspects of your park or play space.
  • Visibility and site lines – will determine lighting, fencing, landscaping, security and safety aspects of your design.
  • Accessibility – is the location connected to other areas, amenities, walkways, trails, paths etc.
  • Access and Circulation – how is the location accessed regarding streets, other areas of interest or locations in the city and how will the park circulation flow with your design.

In addition to the physical characteristics that impact your park or playground design, you need to understand the market and community of your location. If you want people to visit your park playground regularly, it needs to fit with what the community needs. As a park designer, you want to consider how to engage participation and encourage all sectors to take advantage of their community park.

Don’t Forget the Public Park Basics

When you have a comprehensive understanding of the experience you want your outdoor space to provide, don’t forget to include site furnishings such as park benches, picnic tables, trash receptacles, fountains and other elements visitors can enjoy. It is also important to spend some time developing the social aspect of your design. Place furnishings strategically within your design to foster interactions and conversation.

For areas where the natural overhead tree canopy is limited, be sure to consider adding manufactured shade to your design. Not only do shade structures add a unique look to your park or playground they also keep it cool and comfortable for park guests allowing them to stay longer.

Design for a Variety of Play

A good playground design challenges and promotes children’s growth. By providing opportunities for children to engage in a variety of types of play, children can better understand the world around them and master life skills. As you are creating your playground design, consider how you can accommodate different types of interactive play and ways for children of all ages and abilities to use their bodies and minds and interact with others and their environment.

  • Active play – Running, jumping, climbing and kicking. Twirling, swinging, spinning, and rolling around. Moving your body up, down, and around.
  • Sensory play – Connecting with the world around us at the most basic level—our senses. Touching different interesting textures, smelling flowers and plants, hearing music and sounds and seeing different perspectives and angles as well as beautiful shapes and colors.
  • Creative play – Drawing, painting, coloring, writing, singing, drumming, dancing and making crafts. Creative expression allows children to communicate and connect with others.
  • Imaginative Play – Dressing up, make-believe, and pretend play. Playhouses, themed playground equipment, costumes and props let children act out imaginary scenes and role model other activities they see at home and in their communities.
  • Social play – Talking, sharing, cooperating, taking turns, making friends, following “rules” and playing sports.
  • Reflective play – Watching, resting, reflecting, thinking, daydreaming, and just staring into space. Quiet or cozy spaces.

These are not the only ways children play, but these categories help us expand our understanding of the types of play children engage in. Knowing how children play and develop helps us strategically plan a play space where children can learn, grow and enjoy. It is essential to remember not only do we need to address the whole child and the different types of play, but children of all abilities and ages. An inclusive play environment is essential and goes beyond minimum accessibility standards to create meaningful play experiences for everyone.

A Strong Foundation for Your Commercial Playground

A strong foundation is the secret to many things, and a community park playground is one of them. To ensure a safe playground or public park play space, it is important to choose the appropriate safety surfacing material. Safety surfacing can be either unitary or loose fill. Booth unitary and loose fill have their advantages and disadvantages, but proper installation is the key to any safety surfacing solution.

Loose Fill Safety Surfacing Options

Unitary Safety Surfacing Options

It is imperative that all playground safety surfaces, and applicable sub surfaces be installed exactly to specification over a well-drained, properly prepared base, and must cover the intended use zone for the surface material to adhere to the ASTM standards and safety guidelines.

A well-designed community park playground will create an inclusive play and recreation space that connects people while enhancing and utilizing the surrounding natural environment. CR Studio Design can help you create a community park playground that is aesthetically pleasing and functional.