London Open for Play talks are online!

Tim Gill of Rethinking Childhood began with a heartening reminder of how much London playground provision has improved just over the last five to seven years at :32 to 4:02.  He also included some great quotes that every playscaper should know at and think about:

If you want to do something nice for a child, give them an environment where they can touch things as much as they want.”  Buckminster Fuller, 1972. 

“I am convinced that standardised playgrounds are dangerous, just in another way: When the distance between all the rungs in a climbing net or a ladder is exactly the same, the child has no need to concentrate on where he puts his feet. Standardisation is dangerous because play becomes simplified and the child does not have to worry about his movements.”  Helle Nebelong

“Children are a kind of indicator species.  If we can build a successful city for children, we will have a successful city for all people.”  Enrique Penalosa, 2004

I was up next with “Hills are the new Swings”, playground trends as seen from my vantage point here at Playscapes, where I hear from a great range of people from parents to practitioners. Starting with science–phase diagrams as a broad thought construct–I talked about how the traditional definition of ‘playground’ is converging with the garden and the gallery, the street and the city, and how my readership indicates the growing appetite for play making outside of the usual Arch and LArch practitioners, who I scold just a little bit for not challenging their boundaries enough.  Three takeaway trends:  “feel risky, play safe”, “play local”, and “natural beyond nature”.  I won’t give any highlights because I find watching my own videos pretty unbearable, so you’re on your own.

The focus on play in London shows in the fact that a playground will be the first design to open up the North Park of the Olympics sites this year.  It was presented by Jennette Emery-Wallis of Land Use Consultants (best known for the Diana Memorial Playground in Hyde Park, which I have never visited in person because they don’t allow unaccompanied adults and I never seem to be able to borrow a child at the right time when I’m in London!) My non-practitioner readers will particularly the insight into how LArchs approach a site design.  A highlight is the discussion of the sand and water play planned for the space at 11:00 to 14:50.  I love how the water play is designed to express the history of the local river, and the careful attention to the textures of the site…the North Park playground is setting a very high bar for play spaces in London and I can’t wait to see it.

I was incredibly inspired by Liz Kessler’s presentation of the public realm improvement of EC1, an area of London with a high concentration of social housing (known in the UK as ‘estates’, what we call here in the US ‘projects’).  I learned from her the need to think far beyond the confines of the playground itself, to connect it to streets, to parking and lighting and particularly to path, about which we’ll be talking alot here at Playscapes this year.   Without improvements to these enabling elements, the best and most beautiful of playgrounds can fail to serve its community.   See particularly her explanation of how important play is to regeneration from 11:40 to 13:40 in the first video.  In the second video, a summary of how EC1 appeared before and after the scheme shows the power of the transformation and its impact on the residents:  0:00 to 3:00, then keep listening to hear Liz talk about the problem of misplaced fences from 3:00 to 6:25.  But really, you should listen to the whole thing.  I learned so much from this presentation.

London Open for Play 2012 was just a small beginning of what I hope will be a wide-ranging means of enabling local discussions around play provision.  Plans for an even bigger London Open for Play 2013 are already in the works, and do be in touch if you’d like to have an Open for Play event in your own city!

 

2 Responses to “London Open for Play talks are online!”

  1. Tumbling Bay Playground, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park London, Land Use Consultants and Erect Architecture, 2013 | Playscapes said:

    […] you were at London OpenforPlay in 2012, you heard Jennette Emery-Wallis of LUC describe the plans for the park, and it is lovely to see how they have come to pass.  If you […]

    October 30, 2013 at 4:44 pm

  2. Tumbling Bay Playground, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park London, Land Use Consultants and Erect Architecture, 2013 | Playscapes said:

    […] you were at London OpenforPlay in 2012, you heard Jennette Emery-Wallis of LUC describe the plans for the park, and it is lovely to see how they have come to pass.  If you […]

    October 30, 2013 at 4:44 pm

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