Feature Article - April 2011
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Puddle-Loving Fun

New Developments in Sprayground Design

By Deborah L. Vence

Meanwhile, a Canadian-based company that specializes in aquatic play and urban landscape solutions boasts a variety of sprayground designs, such as one that resembles a water garden and another that features abstract shapes to help encourage creative play. Additionally, the company's newer sprayground designs have the shape of a spider and scorpion equipped with a jet spray activator.

Phil Moya, recreation programs manager for the city of Greeley Leisure Services Department/Recreation in Greeley, Colo., said he has visited many new spraygrounds locally and found that the most popular areas have interactive features.

"I have also noticed that many communities have utilized art funds to incorporate customized spray features from local artists," Moya said. "Spraygrounds have also been more focused on colorizing their pads by staining the concrete or painting a rubberized surface on the concrete that is textured and comes in many different colors. This allows the owner to provide theming for their facility at minimal cost.

"The one thing that I feel is important to any sprayground is the more interactive it is, the more attractive it is to the older age groups," he said. "This will keep the families coming back throughout the summer. If you are capable of purchasing features that can be switched out with other facilities, that will help with retention."

Besides themes and customized elements, spraygrounds even can perform double duty.

Doug Whiteaker, principal at Water Technology Inc., a design firm based in Beaver Dam, Wis., said spraygrounds not only are popular during the day as a play amenity, but they also are popular during the evening hours—serving the interests of both children and adults.

"That may become what the configuration or designs are; as civic gathering places and social zones. It has a multitude of meetings and design direction that helps provide gateways to parks. They're geared toward families and adults at night. It's a destination that becomes a fun, family time," Whiteaker said.

Added Curtis L. Hancock, project manager for Metro Parks Tacoma in Tacoma, Wash.: "The spaces have become community gathering spots even when the sprayground is not operating. Design needs to take into account other uses as well, such as skateboarding and appearance in the off season."

Also, Whiteaker noted that spraygrounds might even have more natural elements, rather than manufactured components.

"You're seeing more ground sprays and more water features where water sprays out of rocks, with a much more integrated landscape effect," Whiteaker said.