Saturday, September 27, 2008

The playground-inspired art of Judy Rushin

"These days I daydream a lot about the territories that lay between child and adult worlds. These are the places where innocence and experience overlap, where the tension of the safety of the sheltered childhood and the hazard of the encroaching adult world co-exist. If we’re lucky, we visit and revisit these places throughout our lives.

Place is about the construction of personal memory, concentrating on these transitional places.

The work arises from a combination of intuitive responses, direct observation and conceptual resonance. "

Above, "Blue Structure". See more at Judy Rushin's website.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Garden City Park, Richmond Canada, space2place, 2008

This is my new favorite has all the things I like to see.

A creek bed, water play, jumping stones, an outdoor theatre, natural wood and rocks to climb on, plenty of sand...and colored poles stuck in the ground for kids to play tag through are a personal favorite design feature.

from an article in the Vancouver Sun on the playscape:

" brings to the surface an underground storm water system, and then spirals the water through unusual channels and man-made structures--including a manouverable sluice, hand-pump and water wheel..."
Oooh, hydraulics!

"Unusual plants -- seed heads and grases in 'weird and wonderful shapes and colours' -- add novelty and texture..."
I'm so pleased, too, to see the inclusion of a skateboarding step for teens! It seems that they are often actively shunned from playgrounds now, when they are hardly beyond childhood themselves in many ways. I sometimes teach college freshmen, and believe me, they could be twelve.

A superb design by space2place of Vancouver...many thanks to principal J Cutler for providing plenty of photos.

No Child Left Inside: the Children and Nature Network

The Children and Nature website has a wealth of resources, providing "access to the latest news and research in the field and a peer-to-peer network of researchers and individuals, educators and organizations dedicated to children's health and well-being. "
It tracks discussions of outdoor play in the popular news media as well as books and scholarly journals (look under 'news', then 'research and studies' for most of the popular press articles, including a Daily Mail piece on How children lost the right to roam in four generations).
The research section has abstracts (with links to full-text) of scholarly studies.
Here is where you'll find the hard data you need to convince your boss/councilman/pastor/principal/board president/client
NOT to install a typical off-the-shelf playground.
(click on 'publications', then 'research', then 'Volume 1' or 'Volume 2')
A sampling of topics:
Unstructured Free Play Brings Cognitive, Social and Health Benefits
Naturalized School Grounds Benefit Children and Communities
Design Cities Where Children Can Play and Learn Independently
Children’s use of space has changed from being primarily outdoors to indoors and supervised.
Children playing in urban areas may experience lower levels of biological diversity
and my favorite:
Children know more about Pokémon than common wildlife
There's been a strange disconnect for me in the strident advocacy of dense urban living by some in the environmental can result in children who are near completely severed from the natural environment their parents hope they will grow up to protect. And people rarely protect what they don't know.
Set aside a chunk of time to do some enlightening reading at this can also join to get regular updates by email.