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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




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CLADmag issue1 2019  

CLADmag issue1 2019  

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