Architect and urbanist Christina Papadaki lives in the Netherlands, and has written this blog about a simple but effective design of an inclusive playground which she visited in The Hague. It demonstrates how a space which works more equitably for a range of groups can be produced in quite a limited space.
The city of The Hague is recently working on introducing inclusive playgrounds. The city wants to provide spaces that everyone can enjoy on everyday basis. One of these places is this playground in Leidschenveen-Ypenburg, a neighbourhood located in the southeast. The playgroundwas realized with the help of residents and children in the neighbourhood and other partners. Particularly the Youth Council Ypenburg (Wijkz - Youth Work Ypenburg), Foundation Voorall and Yalp | Sport- en Speeltoestellen. The playground is inclusive not just in terms of gender but also offers accessibility to kids with special needs. Special equipment and enough space between the equipment to move around.
The playground is placed in the middle of a rather quiet street surrounded by apartment buildings. It develops along the Katschiplaan street (stripe shape). It has greenery on both sides acting as a buffer between the playground and the streets. It is subdivided in 6 different play zones, offering a variety of spaces for everyone. More specifically, a zone with trampolines, a zone with a slide and swings, a football/basketball zone (which does not overtake the whole space), a climbing zone with more traditional playground equipment, a zone that one can use to its own imagination and a zone with an interactive dance and play arch. More about this installation can be found here.
The zones are not strictly divided so the kids can move from one place to another without disruptions. Also none of the zones are bigger or more attractive than the other so everyone feels equal.
It is worth mentioning that around the playground there is a concrete low “barrier “(dividing the play area from the greenery and streets) often used for sitting/relaxing. That is convenient not just for the parents but also for teenagers that live nearby and want a space to just hung out with their friends.
A plus is also that the space feels and is very safe. Everything is visible from the street level. Although the playground on its own does not have any special lighting, I believe the street lamps provide sufficient lighting. So, girls are not afraid to stay here alone, even later in the day.
Although it is a small playground, its shape and size make it an ideal design for many neighbourhoods. Additionally, it gives the designer the freedom to subdivide and arrange the stripe based on the needs and wishes of each neighbourhood.