inPERSPECTIVE / PLAYGROUNDS: Emerging Trends in Playgrounds Today


Playgrounds have long been an appreciated space for children to engage in physical activity, socialize and have fun. Over the years, playgrounds have evolved from simple swings and slides to complex play environments incorporating innovative rope design elements and cutting-edge equipment. As we move into the future, several emerging trends are shaping modern playgrounds’ landscape, revolutionizing how children play and interact in these spaces and with one another. In this article, we will explore some of the latest trends in playground design and how they transform the play experience for kids.

  • Playground
    Photo Courtesy of InCord/NetPlay USA LLC
    Nature-Inspired Play: One of the most significant trends in playgrounds today is the focus on nature-inspired play. Nature-based play spaces are designed to mimic the natural environment, with features such as logs, boulders and water elements that encourage children to connect with nature and engage in imaginative and creative play. These playgrounds provide children with a unique and engaging play experience and promote physical, cognitive and emotional development. In addition, nature-inspired playground structures offer many benefits beyond traditional play equipment, such as treehouse-looking structures with loft nets, rope bridges and climbing walls to log balance beams. 
        Nature-inspired playground structures also tend to incorporate naturalistic designs that simulate the shapes and patterns found in nature. For example, climbing walls may be designed to resemble a rocky cliff or a log balance beam may replicate a fallen tree trunk. These designs aim to create a sense of authenticity and connection to the natural world while promoting creativity, imagination and a sense of wonder.
  • Fitness & Active Play: With increasing concerns about childhood obesity and sedentary lifestyles, many modern playgrounds incorporate fitness and active play elements to promote physical activity and healthy lifestyles among children. These playgrounds feature equipment such as obstacle or ninja courses and fitness stations that encourage children to engage in active play while developing physical strength, balance and coordination.

    Obstacle and ninja courses require children to use their bodies in various ways. These activities promote strength, flexibility, endurance and coordination as kids navigate through obstacles, climb walls, use different swings and balance on ropes. Such physical challenges help kids develop motor skills, improve health and enhance physical fitness.

    These play courses promote social skills, such as communication, cooperation and teamwork, which are essential for building healthy relationships. In addition, fitness-focused playgrounds provide opportunities for children to engage in challenging and stimulating play that promotes overall well-being.
  • Multigenerational Playground & Recreational
    Photo Courtesy of InCord/NetPlay USA LLC
    Areas: Another emerging trend in playground design is the concept of multigenerational play. Playgrounds are no longer limited to just children. Instead, they accommodate people of all ages, including parents, grandparents and caregivers. Multigenerational play spaces feature elements such as adult fitness equipment and interactive play opportunities for people of all ages to play and interact. These spaces promote intergenerational bonding, socialization and physical activity among people of all ages, fostering a sense of community and inclusivity.

    Multigenerational playgrounds accommodate the diverse needs of users. These playgrounds often feature ramps, sensory play elements and swing seats accessible to individuals of all abilities, promoting inclusivity and fostering a sense of belonging among different generations.

    For older adults, multigenerational playgrounds offer health benefits such as improved balance, coordination and flexibility, which can help prevent falls and maintain independence. These playgrounds also provide opportunities for low-impact exercises, such as gentle stretching and walking, which promote cardiovascular health.
  • Sustainable Design: In today’s world, environmental sustainability is gaining more attention, and play areas are adapting to environmentally friendly design. For example, playgrounds feature eco-friendly materials, energy-efficient lights and water-reducing elements that decrease their ecological footprint and instill sustainable living values in youngsters. These playgrounds also incorporate recycled materials, energy-efficient roofs and natural foliage, constructing environmentally conscious play zones that motivate environmental awareness and stewardship.

In conclusion, as society evolves, so do playground design and equipment trends. The playground industry is changing to meet the needs and desires of children and families in today’s world. These trends are redefining the concept of traditional playgrounds and creating innovative play spaces for all ages and abilities. Ultimately, these advancements promote healthier, happier and more connected generations.     RM