Play environments have the power to fire our children's imagination, but many simply inhibit their mental and physical progress with sterile, risk-averse playgrounds. That's the message behind environmental charity Groundwork's latest campaign to bring natural play to neighbourhoods across the UK.
Groundwork is pioneering an innovative Playscape' project which is set to break the mould of playground design and challenge preconceived ideas of what play is about.
Groundwork chief executive Tony Hawkhead said, "Play is not just a fun activity for children, it is a hugely important way in which they learn to interact with the world, grow and develop as people. Given its importance we must not settle for uninspiring, sterile playgrounds. They do our children no favours - failing to teach them important lessons on how to look after themselves and judge risk and danger. Play environments should challenge - just like life itself."
"With many local authorities currently developing their play strategies, Playscape is a glimpse at the future of playgrounds - creating places that inspire the imagination."
Playscape will promote a more natural approach to play area design, where the landscape is designed to have real play value. Moving away from the traditional concept of swings and roundabouts, Playscape uses mixed level spaces and a combination of textures and sounds, such as water, bridges, boulders and grass mounds to create an exciting setting to challenge and inspire its users.
Speaking at a Groundwork seminar on natural play, acclaimed Danish landscape architect Helle Nebelong said, "Today children's play is dominated by adult perceptions of what children want, not children's. Playgrounds contain the same old brightly coloured equipment surrounded by dog proof fencing. Yet children want only an open space to use their imaginations and play. Natural green places that are well maintained and well designed are perfect for children's development."
Playscape was unveiled at External Works 2007 on 17 April at the NEC in Birmingham.
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