Interesting exploration of the playful spaces around London:
I’m still buzzing after last weekend’s Open House play space tours. Why?
Simple: I saw some inspirational work, and had some immensely rewarding conversations.
We took a meandering and surprisingly green route across most of the NDC area to Radnor Street Gardens.
This is one of London’s best examples of a ‘playable space’ – in other
words, a space where offering opportunities for play is only one of the
jobs that has to be done. My work for the GLA
[pdf link] helped to embed this idea in London’s planning system. In my
view, it is fundamental to the success of public play facilities in
almost any urban area.
What struck me was how the programme combined park, amenity space and
play projects, along with streetscape and highways initiatives, so that
the whole far exceeded the sum of its parts. The ingredients we saw
included [*deep breath*]: new play spaces and toilet blocks in parks and
estates, new public squares from reclaimed street space and car parks, ‘home zone’-style
shared road surfaces, landscaped road closures, greening up an
adventure playground, estate-based allotment projects, cycle lanes,
shared use ball game areas, pushchair-friendly pavements, even (on one
estate) new refuse bin sheds with green roofs. Her approach to
engagement was revealing. Local people were closely involved at all
levels, right up to the NDC board. However, they were seen not simply as
‘stakeholders’ or ‘consumers’, but as people who needed to be inspired,
debated with, and (hopefully) won over.
I think this is a great idea; just as we have garden tours, we should have playground tours! Areas that introduce parents and officials alike to playful, fun spaces to take their kids.
This blog actually has some great conversations about play and the need for children to get outside and play more.
- Play Streets (dundeestreetfestival.wordpress.com)