Natural Playgrounds


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Westmoreland Nature Play Area, Portland Oregon, 2014

One of the great things about natural play features like jumping stones and timber scrambles is that they can be added to existing parks and playgrounds at both large and small scales.  This is a large scale project, but the goal of the Nature-based Play Initiative of the Portland Parks and Rec Department is to do just that; to add nature play to existing sites around the city.  Westmoreland is an exciting beginning, with a 60 foot long creek whose waters can be pumped up to the top of a creek mound, then dammed and sluiced into the sand play area.  There is a hill slide, and a huge timber scramble, and quiet space around the margins for free play fort-building. I particularly like the massiveness of the timber ‘log jam’.  In my experience kids are attracted to overscaled objects, and they readily form part of an imaginative narrative that – 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...

I like the logs leaning against the rock wall of this natural-ish playground in Breton Woods, New Hampshire…interesting way to - Read the rest...

Kagome Sandpit, PPAG Architects, V...

The idea for this wonderful combination of willow weaving and sandpit came when PPAG realized that the Museum Quarter’s request - Read the rest...

The $11,600 Adventure Playground at...

The story of this playground begins with a description of what could be a city park most anywhere: 14 acres, - Read the rest...

Donald and Barbara Zucker Natural E...

So when I visited the new ‘Natural Exploration’ Area at Prospect Park in Brooklyn I kept thinking about my first posts - Read the rest...