Problem Solver - August 2012
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Build a Unique Playground

More and more communities are looking for ways to make their parks and playgrounds stand out. Drawing people of all ages and abilities to these destinations does not need to be difficult. Working with the right manufacturer and their design staff, you can create customized themes and play elements that will create a destination sure to engage everyone.

Q: We'd like to add a unique playground with a theme that reflects our community. What should we consider?

A: Customization and theming are ways to put your playground—and your community—on the map. Themed playgrounds draw people from near and far, whether they're found in an urban setting, a rural community or somewhere in between.

How can you find the theme that works best for your playground? Think about your community and what makes it unique. Some communities choose a theme that reflects local cultural heritage or something unique about the region's geology. For example, a town might choose play elements that reflect a Western theme, a farming theme or even a dinosaur dig. The only limit is your imagination when you choose to customize your playground.

In addition to reflecting the unique character of your community, a theme provides a way to engage people of all ages. Children will be delighted to explore the unique elements built into the space, while older participants can help interpret the experience for the children through signage and pictures.

Q: What should we look for in play equipment to help carry out a theme at our playground?

A: There are many ways to theme your playground using elements that can be incorporated into the play space. For example, concrete play elements can be formed and fashioned to create unique shapes, anything from a series of animals to a rock formation. Concrete can incorporate a wide range of colors, textures and attributes, bringing something unique to the playground. It can be used to create stand-alone elements or it can be integrated into traditional playground equipment.

Concrete elements also add interactivity to the playground, with multisensory discovery elements and more. A multisensory discovery wall can attract patrons of all ages and abilities. You can even create a seek-and-find game, where children try to locate specific elements built into the concrete, such as small critters, insects and more.

Concrete can be shaped into highly realistic representations. Make sure you work with a manufacturer that has an in-house team of designers and artists. This helps control the accuracy and authenticity of the piece. The team might even enlist the help of naturalists to help validate clay models for accuracy of scale, detail and color to provide a truly authentic experience.

Q: What else can we do to incorporate a theme at our playground?

A: In addition to the play elements themselves, you can choose signage, surfacing and colors that carry the theme throughout the space. A range of colors can be created with epoxy paints and powder coating for the play structure and signs and polyurethane surfacing. Think all playground colors need to be green or tan? Think again. Look for manufacturers that take colors to a new level, and your playground can be truly unique.

Look for architectural-grade pigments, a high-grade powdercoat paint that can withstand exposure to heat, humidity and UV light.

By combining well-designed play elements with colors and a unifying theme, you will create a playground that is a truly unique destination.


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