Play Value : Where Does Design Fit In?

Safety surfacing, by nature, allows kids to play on splash pads the way they want to play. But there’s more to the conversation than just facilitating play. How can safety surfacing elevate experiences by encouraging and inviting new kinds of play opportunities? How can safety surfaces by design create a more dynamic play space?

Today leading architects and engineers in aquatic design, splash pad manufacturers, world renowned brands, and cities all over the world design safer and active play spaces. We’ve guiding principles for our design process to select splash pads, specifically in the matter of safety and play.

Safety (and Fun!) By Design

Our Studio department often discusses how everything we use throughout our life goes through multiple design phases. A common example of this is the difference between a simple and common toddler pool and a splash pad. While they have the same ultimate purpose, they went through design phases - they were simply selected to achieve the goal of joy and playfulness with water.

To understand what is involved in creating a successful splash pad, take playground techniques for example. In One&Only “Design for Play: A guide to creating successful play spaces” discuss creating unique and attractive play spaces: “Its premise is that, like any other part of the public realm that is intended to be well used, well loved and well maintained, play space needs a coherent concept and a clear design”.

Crafting a successful play space requires the design to be focused on long-term maintenance, overall play value, and a unique place in the heart of the community that can be transformed. The latter eliminates the possibility of “one size fits all” or “cookie-cutter” location, but also demands a level of integration and customization that lends to making the space fun and maintainable.

To help make this feasible, our Design team offer a set of design principles to create a successful play space. These play locations:

■ are ‘bespoke’
■ are well located
■ make use of natural elements
■ provide a wide range of play experiences
■ meet community needs
■ allow children of different ages to play together
■ build in opportunities to experience risk and challenge
■ are sustainable and appropriately maintained
■ allow for change and evolution.

These inspirational guidelines were designed to make communities, designers, and manufacturers alike consider play value as not only a series of parts, but also an ecosystem. Ecosystems flourish when all parts are balanced and each facet is considered harmonious with the rest which are compiled of the features, the functions, the environment, and safety itself.

Safety surfacing is often a vital part of a play value ecosystem. It adds deep richness and dimensions that can support splash features, reflect the environment, and customize the play space for the community.

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