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A World of Playgrounds

Rain bird
Belgard Came America

Many playgrounds built today tend to have certain kinds of play structures in common: usually a slide or two, swings, of course, maybe some faux rocks to climb and perhaps a roped climber as well.

Of course, not all playgrounds are created equal. In the March Parks issue, you saw, for instance, the playground in Westminster Park in Colorado with its Westminster, England-inspired designs: a Big Ben-like obelisk, a Westminster, England street grid and the Thames flowing (cobble paving and spray elements) across a plaza. The Neverland-themed playground was creative, colorful and engaging.

It's instructive and interesting to see how the rest of the world is designing playgrounds. We thought to take a look at a few examples.


Title picture and above: The St Kilda Adventure Playground in Adelaide is one of Australia's best-known parks along the beautiful south coastline, kind of the down under down under. The park was opened in 1982. Recent upgrades include a wooden castle, a small maze and the "Yellow Submarine." The park's biggest attraction is the constructed pirate shipwreck.


All over China, we're told, you find playgrounds like this one in Gulangyu, primarily designed for adults to keep in shape. Not the most inspirational gym.

This playground, just outside a mall, nearest a McDonald's, has children suspended from lines over trampolines, and rock wall climbing.


Monstrum, a Danish company, is noted for designing imaginative playgrounds.

New Zealand

The lighthouse slide is at Frank Kitts Park on the waterfront in Wellington, New Zealand.


The Spanish architects Eduardo Navadijos and Csaba Tarsoly recently unveiled a an extension of a playground in Boadilla del Monte in the center of Madrid, creating a shade canopy for an existing pavilion that serves as a large, airy game room. Kids also enjoy climbing the rubberized hills.


Nishi Rokugo Koen playground in Tokyo uses some 3,000 tires to create dinosaurs, a robot and such play accessories as bridges, slides and swings.

This young one is "king of the world," but the playground surfacing is only a thin layer of sand.

The "slide" is actually a wide concrete slope where kids scoot down on tires, not the best idea, given the tendency of tires to grip and flip. Some kids forego the tires and just belly down the slope.

This playground gives the impression that Japan is not as "sue-happy" as the U.S., given the lack of basic safety features on the playground. This girl, her feet dangling in the air, really seems in a precarious position.


Back in the days of the Soviet Union, playgrounds in Russia were no-nonsense Spartan facilities that Westerners described as small versions of army-style obstacle courses. Thus, some people in some communities opted to make their own playground creations. Let's just say these people lacked a sense of style and fun.

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November 20, 2019, 2:46 pm PDT

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