HISTORICALLY, PLAY PROVISION in parks, housing estates and schools too often amounted
to little more than the purchase of manufactured play equipment and surrounding it with a fence.
This approach is still prevalent today but we hope less so than in previous years.
Part of our purpose is to counter this limited and limiting approach.
There have also been welcome changes in thinking about how provision for play is approached.
This has been advanced and underpinned by some key publications:
- Online Exhibition: Places of Woe: Places of Possibility
- Designs for Play: A guide to creating successful play spaces
- Managing Risk in Play Provision: Implementation guide
- Risk-Benefit Assessment guide
- HSE Higher Level Statement: Promoting a Balanced Approach
It is not immodest to highlight that PLAYLINK Associates
are co-authors of a number of the works listed above.
Our experience has been that many design practices have yet to embrace a more expansive,
less risk averse approach to designing for play. This runs alongside a rhetorical commitment
to creating more 'natural' play environments which can, in practice, amount to little more than
gestures - a boulder here, a few logs here and there.
The potential for planting and the landscape-as-such being understood
as a play resource is under-explored.
Allied to this is a lack of clarity, and nervousness, about play equipment and surfacing Standards,
their scope and applicability.
The workshops are designed to look at the factors that affect designing for play. This will necessarily include
questioning the very idea of designated play spaces, not least the social meaning of such spaces, along with
thinking about how designing for play can have a wider impact on how shared social space is conceived and used.
Risk issues, too, affect how play is provided for, and this is discussed, as are play equipment Standards.
Approaches to consultation are examined - what can usefully be asked?
Is simply 'asking' people want they want a help or hindrance to good design?
The workshops are conversational in style and, as a good conversation should be,
responsive to the interests of those that participate in it.
The workshops are designed to be held in-house, either within one firm or practice, or jointly with two or more.