Natural Playgrounds


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Patrick Dougherty Stick Sculpture, Olympia Children’s Museum, 2014

Artist Patrick Dougherty’s Stickworks are always play-ful, but the whimsical maze-like construction at the Olympia Hands-on Children’s Museum in Olympia, Washington, described as spiralling up “like whipped cream with towers”  is specifically designed for play with pathways and archways and secret hiding places.  Don’t miss the fascinating video (below) that shows the construction process (who knew that you needed a crew of leaf-strippers?).  And I love his enunciation of a concept that we’ve talked about here before at Playscapes as “feel-risky-play-safe”:  “You don’t want to lose your children, you just want them to feel as though they can be lost”.   Lost in a Stickworks sculpture is a great place to be!


Terra Nova Playscape, Hapa Collabor...

British Columbia-based LArch and urban design collaborative HAPA and WildPlay have opened a new ‘play experience’ for the city of Richmond, - Read the rest...

Buzzbench, AnneMarie van Splunter, ...

“First of all, one must choose a permanent residence for the bees, …” Virgil: Georgics IV” Playcapes’ friend AnneMarie van - Read the rest...

Reinterpreting the Playground Climb...

Playful architecture round up this week….the ‘grid’ style playground climber is a classic; I’d love to see it reinterpreted in - Read the rest...

Westmoreland Nature Play Area, Port...

One of the great things about natural play features like jumping stones and timber scrambles is that they can be - Read the rest...

Carkeek Park Playground, Barker Lan...

Barker Landscape Architecture is also responsible for the Carkeek Park Playground in Seattle, which references the nearby Piper’s Creek and - Read the rest...

Tractor Playground, Bradner Gardens...

Reader Justin also sent me the link to this Seattle tractor play feature ( a year and a half ago, which - Read the rest...

Vintage Playgrounds of Seattle, Was...

Many thanks to Justin for alerting me to the great flickr set from the City of Seattle’s Municipal Archives, “Seattle - Read the rest...

Secret Garden Playscape, Olson Kund...

The rise of the suburban shopping mall seems to have doomed the department store rooftop playground in the United States - Read the rest...

Make Aldo Leopold's Bench for your ...

As you make your bench, with kid-power of course, everyone can learn about Aldo Leopold (1887-1948) who founded the field of Wildlife - Read the rest...

RFP for Natural Playground from Chi...

And speaking of RFP’s…the Children’s Harbor Montessori School in New York got in touch with their RFP for a natural - Read the rest...

Boulders done right in natural play...

The grant is in, so it is back to playgrounds (and sleeping…shout out to the National Science Foundation who really - Read the rest...

Tilts on the Playground, Kukuk, 200...

Playgrounds-should-not-be-flat means firstly utilizing or creating an interesting ground topography, but secondly it means bending and tilting the surfaces of - Read the rest...

Playground Nests, Kukuk, 2004-2014

It happens only rarely that I am impressed with a firm’s entire body of playground work. But Stuttgart-based Kukuk, founded - Read the rest...

Cherry Blossom Treehouse, Terunobu ...

No one does treehouses like the Japanese…this teahouse by Terunobu Fujimori for the Kiyoharu Shirakaba Museum in Hokuto was constructed specifically - Read the rest...

Radio Boston, Natural Playgrounds

Very happy to be on RadioBoston yesterday with Ruth Graham to discuss natural playgrounds…you can listen here!

Painted Logs for Natural Playscapes...

Nice way to add color to the natural playscape…targeted logs by Jacob Dahlgren My Ekman. [source]

Living Willow Pirate Ship, Harlow C...

Pirate ships are overdone on the playground but I love this ghostly woven willow version by Phil Bradley, at Harlow - Read the rest...

Reclaimed Trees for the Maggie Dale...

Reclaimed trees for the new Maggie Daley Park Play Garden in Chicago, drying off for installation later this year…I look - Read the rest...

Swings Should be Arbors

  So I’m working on an article about ‘accessible’ playgrounds in which this site, the Rusk Children’s PlayGarden for Interactive - Read the rest...

A Treed House of Play (from scraps!...

Treehouses in botanical gardens typically, and appropriately, defer to the tree; refusing to damage it with traditional elevated designs. So - Read the rest...

The Swing at the End of the World, ...

The Swing at the End of the World rewards hikers that make it to La Casa del Árbol (The Treehouse), - Read the rest...