Pocket Playscape for Supervised Visits, EarthArtist, Guelph Canada, 2012

Another one of the very early features on Playscapes–back when a google search for ‘natural playgrounds’ turned up about three companies (how things have changed)–was EarthArtist.  When I was in Toronto, I was pleased to get to meet Mike Salisbury, its proprietor and designer, still making playgrounds!   His recent intervention at the supervised visitation area for Family and Children’s Services of Guelph, Ontario Canada took a tiny area of plain paving and grass and made a great small playground…and did you notice its focal point is a hill?  Of course.   I had never really thought about the need for play at social welfare organizations like this…just guessing but I would imagine their play provision is generally pretty poor.  This project shows that how much can be done in a small space.

This playground is used by up to four families at the same time for supervised visits with their children. With less than 2000 square feet available, the playground had to provide a range of activities for children ages infant to teen during an emotionally charged and potentially stressful situation.

The design had to include numerous seating areas for private conversation. In addition to formal picnic facilities the playground utilized various seat walls, boulders, and cedar post walls to break up the small site and create intimate areas for  reconnecting with family. This “pocket park” includes an accessible creative sand play area, a lookout deck with berm slide, and a traverse wall to provide scalable challenge for a wide range of ages and abilities.

The entire project cost less to build than a standalone prefabricated plastic play structure.”

Design and construction management – 5000 

  • Grading and site prep – 1500
  • Plant material, sod, garden soil and mulch – 6500

Supply and install:

  • 8 Large Limestone boulders – 2000
  • Sand and pea gravel safety surface – 800
  • Embankment slide – 850
  • Cedar Slide deck – 1500
  • 17 Cedar Posts – 2000

Total Playground Cost – 20, 150

There were several design features specific to this client’s needs beyond what a regular playground would include: 

  • Commercial Traverse Wall – 4500
  • Ornamental Fence – 5500
  • Unit Paver walkway – 6000
  • Concrete work – 7500
  • Site furnishings – 4000

Earthartist is also one of the inaugural members of the Playscapes Providers Directory, which I’ve started in answer to the many queries I now receive asking for recommendations as to designers and makers.   If you or your company has previously been featured on the Playscapes blog, you can apply to be included here!


Leave a Reply