Dec 15

A Look Back: Our Favorite Playground Design Trends from 2020

With each passing year, CR Studio Design is increasingly thankful for the communities we are able to serve. We believe that our playground and recreation projects offer more than just new equipment to a school or city park. They truly make communities better places to live by providing more ways for people to socialize and stay active. As we look back on 2020, we are excited to reflect on some of our favorite playground design trends and share them with you.

Interactive Play

Through our partnership with Yalp Interactive, we witnessed the growing trend in interactive play. Simply put, interactive play combines digital gaming with the real world. Video games and outdoor play came together to create truly inclusive, immersive play experiences that were fun for all ages. DJ booths, dance pads, activity zones and sports games were just a few examples of interactive play that leveraged digital voices and visual prompts to keep people moving in a space. Because they were electronic, the games can be updated regularly to keep them challenging, even for repeat users! In addition to it’s multigenerational appeal, interactive play equipment added value to spaces because it combined the entertainment value of video games with the physical benefits of outdoor play. 

children standing under Yalp Sona Dance Arch

Playful Landscapes 

Playground safety surfacing took on a creative twist this year. Utilizing poured-in-place rubber, playground designers crafted mounds to change the elevation of play areas. The mounds were small hills, usually constructed of plastic or resin, covered with poured-in-place rubber. They visually resembled hills and offered unique climbing and play opportunities for children of all ages and abilities. Because poured-in-place rubber is highly customizable with colors and designs, playground mounds became a popular way to diversify a space’s curb appeal. Different color combinations, textures and themes helped it stand out and be memorable. Other types of playground equipment were easily incorporated around the mounds, which made them a blank canvas for designers who wanted to create adventurous, one-of-a-kind spaces.

mounds built into playground surfacing

Multigenerational Spaces

Thanks to emerging trends in multigenerational equipment, age is no longer a barrier to play. GameTime’s invention of the Expression Swing®, the first swing that lets children and adults swing together while facing each other, ushered in a wave of equipment that invites adults to play alongside children. Ergonomic, accessible and inclusive fitness equipment made exercise possible for people of all ages and abilities. Designers created fitness equipment with customizable features like height or weight that accommodated people with different fitness levels, limited range of motion or those in a mobility device. Outdoor obstacle courses such as the Challenge Course revolutionized how communities viewed fitness by creating a destination where the entire family could socialize and get fit together. 

children running on outdoor obstacle course

Playground Nets

Playground nets played an integral role in transforming playgrounds this year. Their appeal is not surprising given that they have practical and creative applications. Because they are often constructed from rope or interwoven cable material, nets allowed caretakers to have largely unobstructed views of children who are playing in a space. They were also a versatile design element, capable of being a freestanding unit or connecting to another playground structure. Perhaps most notably, nets offered an extraordinary eye-catching appeal. They were positioned at vertical angles, designed as crawl-through tunnels or crafted into climbable walls. Because of their flexible options, they were a go-to for designers who wanted to foster imaginative play inside an artistic area that touted the unique shapes, applications and elevations that only nets could provide.  

children climbing on net on playground

Interactive play equipment, playful landscapes, multigenerational spaces and playground nets are all design trends that gained popularity in 2020, and they will undoubtedly add play value for years to come. At CR Studio Design, we are certain the best is yet to come, and we look forward to seeing what design trends are waiting for us in the New Year.