Friday, 26 February 2021

Playground Design Challenge

Playgrounds are an important part of childhood.  Play, exercise, seeing friends and having fun all happen in our playgrounds.  In these days of lock-down, playground facilities have never been more important for the mental and physical wellbeing of our children.  

But have you noticed that playgrounds are for kids, but have been designed by adults?  What do they know?!?  With Furzedown Primary School in London SW17 we set an design challenge for KS2 pupils (years 3 to 6, i.e. 8 to 11 year olds) to re-imagine their perfect playground: A space for kids, designed by kids.

This lock-down challenge was sent out to the kids with the following simple rules:

  • No adults allowed: Grown-ups were not allowed to influence the design.  Kid-power protocols govern!
  • There's no such thing as a bad idea.  Take your extreme, and push it to the extreme!
  • Your ideas matter.  Don't doubt your abilities.
  • Keep playing with your designs, with drawings, using colour, making models, even attempting prototypes.  See what the different media and scales influence your designs.  
Additional notes to the brief included consideration of space, place, weather, inclusivity and activities.  There were some thoughts on presentation, narrative and naming their projects too.  

Playground Challenge Brief

Playground Challenge Ideas

Over the February half term the kids set to work on their proposals.  The results were varied and exciting, and demonstrated a freedom of thought and individuality of ideas.  

Years 3 to 6 tackle the Playground Challenge!

In addition to making a novel response to the design challenge, the kids ideas often reflect personal interests and activities of value to them.   It has proven a very productive exercise which we hope we can develop and progress in future workshops once lock-down restrictions lift.  

Education note: The purpose of this design workshop is to demonstrate that we are all stakeholders in our surroundings.  Where spaces directly affect us, we can have the confidence to assess what we require, what would make a positive difference and what would make them special.  The views of children are no less important here.  In fact their input can carry a lot of value because their thoughts are often less affected by preconceptions of what should be, and they represent tomorrow's generation of grown-ups.

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