The story of this playground begins with a description of what could be a city park most anywhere: 14 acres, a soccer field, quite a few trees, and a set of wood-and-metal playground equipment that didn’t get much use from anyone past the age of four.
What happens next is a wonderful story of a how a non-traditional (i.e. not focused on equipment) playground space grew gradually and organically out of what the park users themselves wanted to do and build, not what someone designed on their behalf, until eventually even the underused wood-and-metal equipment became a vital play area once again. And for all of $11,600!
Central to the space is the 20×40 sandpit in which a simple $64 water tap facilitates endless water play. Don’t miss the comparisons to elaborate, engineered water play solutions in the latter half of the presentation…proof, if you readers needed any, that playgrounds don’t need to be expensive for good play to occur.
I’m intrigued, too, to see the role of sympathetic park personnel in this story: they built the sandpit and donated leftover supplies and installed new fencing in response to users’ needs. Wherever I go I hear alot of grousing about the maintenance people at parks and schools. They’re often blamed for the playgrounds not being what they could be, but I’m not convinced that’s more than a convenient excuse for the designers, at least most of the time.
Seeing great play happen builds commitment and a desire to help, in the park workers, in the neighbors, in the parents, and even in those icy-hearted city planners, whose command to tear down the swingset was resisted, and reversed.
Thanks to Jutta Mason for sharing her and Nayssam Shujauddin’s inspiring prezi on Dufferin Grove!