I N PR A ISE OF PL AY The importance of play for children is
widely understood; it fosters creativity, independence and problem solving,
and helps social, emotional and physical
development. Most importantly of all – it’s fun
espite this, opportunity for unstructured outdoor play is steadily decreasing. A
2016 study, funded by the UK government, revealed that time spent playing outside
has shrunk drastically, and a ﬁfth of children didn’t play outside at all on an average day.
Access to green spaces is vital. In cities in
particular, well designed playgrounds play a vital role in encouraging children to be active and bringing communities together.
On page 56 we interview Ole Barslund
Children need imaginative play spaces to call their own
“Falling and failing can be a good thing.” I’ve been really interested to watch
the growth in the movement towards
Nielsen, co-founder of Danish playground
creating children’s playgrounds that
design ﬁrm Monstrum. Monstrum
include an element of risk. For a long
design beautiful, imaginative wooden
time, the focus was on minimising harm,
playgrounds that make me wish I was
resulting in uninspiring play spaces.
a child again. Rather than going for a
As a mother, I understand the
cookie cutter approach, each playground is unique and inspired by its location. A world
away from dull, standard-issue playgrounds, Monstrum’s creations are designed to help
ﬁre the imagination of the children who use them.
Nielsen and Monstrum co-founder Christian Jensen
met when they were working as set designers, and this background can be seen in the theatrical, storytelling
nature of their spaces. Their Theater Park playground in Pildammsparken, Malmö, Sweden, features a big stage where children can act to imaginary (or real) cheering crowds, a spinning theatre, and a movie kiosk.
Another important aspect of their playgrounds is an
element of risk. Children need the opportunity to assess
danger, according to Nielsen, and Monstrum’s playgrounds are designed to facilitate risk-taking. “Children should be allowed to experience danger and feel the tickle in the stomach that occurs when you take a chance,” he says.
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CLADmag 2019 ISSUE 1
instinct to minimise risk for our children,
but they need opportunities to test their
boundaries and learn to assess danger.
In the UK and the US, adventure playgrounds are
making a comeback. On New York’s Governor’s Island,
the Yard is a hugely popular space where parents sign a waiver and wait outside while their children climb, slide
down poles and use tyres, old junk, hammers, saws and
nails to destroy and remake their environment. According
to Rebecca Faulkner, executive director of play:groundNYC, the non proﬁt organisation that designed and built the facility: “It’s 50,000 square feet of creative joy.”
Whether it’s a beautifully crafted wooden playground
or a junk yard ﬁlled with debris, the important thing is that kids have spaces they can call their own. Magali Robathan, managing editor, CLAD