Rainwater on the Playground – Making Drainage a Play Feature

Learning through Landscapes also produced an insightful report on the Berlin schoolyards, with many great images, including those above.  There’s a wealth of inspiration in these schools’ tolerance for untidiness, their insistence on sand rather than mulch or safety surfacing,  and the ‘reprofiling’ of school yards to introduce slopes and dips….it’s a must-read document.

One aspect of the report is the use of drainage as a play feature.  When you do hear about playground drainage it’s usually as a problem! But these schoolyards consistently see it as opportunity,  channeling the flow with gentle swales and valleys, places kids naturally like to play.

The water course can take various forms, from an artistic mosaic to a boulder-strewn stream bed.  You can of course add piped-in water to these features, but I like the way using rainwater introduces a seasonality and changeability to the playscape.

The ever-helpful London Play have produced a document all about playing with rainwater and sustainable drainage strategies with loads of helpful tips and great site examples to inspire your own rainwater playscape.

The flip side of drainage-as-playfeature is that NOT realizing the attractiveness of rainwater channels can inadvertently cause a problem by drawing children into a space that wasn’t designed for them, and carries too much water to be safe.  The nice urban drainage scheme of Upton, Northamptonshire (below) is an irresistible playspace and has been adopted as such by children in the community, but this can’t be encouraged since it wasn’t a planned use.  (thanks to  reader Amy for this information)


2 Responses to “Rainwater on the Playground – Making Drainage a Play Feature”

  1. ako said:

    thanks for linking to the pdf. Very useful and inspiring – another great tool 🙂

    March 03, 2012 at 12:17 am

  2. Sara C's it - @saracsit said:

    This is great. They are going to redo the park across the street for me and I'd like them to utilize the natural drainage as play/learning without freaking out over “omg, my child is going to get wet”..

    March 01, 2012 at 7:01 pm

Leave a Reply