Planet Earth Playscapes

This is an image from the Soundscape Project, one of an inspiring collection of Planet Earth Playscapes from Rusty Keeper. I decided to feature this particular play element because it is so often overlooked in the design of children's play environments. The designers explain:

We use sound in 3 general ways:

1) As an ambient “backdrop” to the play yard, with sounds creating aural moods with wind chimes, and listening dishes to focus your attention.

2) Sound as a “by product” of play with bells, chimes and rattles hidden in trees, shrubs, structures and tires where the children already play.

3) Sound as the “goal” of play. For this, various sound sculptures were installed including jumbo standing chimes, a huge thunder drum children can pound on with softball mallets, and a large wooden marimba and tongue drums.

This is another of Keeler's playscape designs. Designed for infant and toddlers:

Details of the play environment include a small bubbling water feature, "secret" paths between tall edible plants, carved wooden sculptures, a "mini orchard" with dwarf apple trees, gentle grassy hills, and raised planters full of flowers, vegetables and herbs.

Children can drive tricycles through a large tunnel, dig in a giant sand area, and race down slides embedded in the side of a hill.

Also in the design are various sound elements including large, tuned chimes played with mallets, a booming "Thunder Drum" for children to pound on, and a variety of twinkling windchimes hung in trees.

It is exemplary of a clearly r/evolutionary trend in playground design, one that brings with it a sense of fun and beauty, of respect for life and play, of opportunities for imagination and exploration, physical and sensual involvement, light and delight.


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