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Regent’s Park

July 3, 2012

Today was a bit slow on the playground front, as I found myself somewhat fatigued from my trip out to Bristol yesterday.  However, I did make my way to Regent’s Park later in the afternoon today, and I was intrigued to find two play areas in close proximity to each other.  One was a fenced in, plastic and metal, typical playground with several different climbing structures with metal and rope ladders and platforms, the usual sort of thing you might see on a playground with components ordered from a large equipment supplier’s catalog.

About one hundred feet from this fenced-in playground, on a slight rise, looking as if a giant had dropped a handful of toothpicks or matchsticks onto the grass, was a timber log climbing structure very similar to the one that I found at Jubilee Gardens several days ago.  It was quite beautiful, and again it was a great example of how a play climbing structure can be designed and built to intrigue and challenge, to provoke and to perplex, and to offer opportunity for risk in play.  I had an interesting conversation with my son Daniel after he finished clambering around on the wooden logs.  As he climbed down he said that the timber climbing structure made him feel nervous.  “Why?”, I asked.  “Because it kind of feels like you could really fall if you’re on top of some of the logs.”, he replied.  “Which playspace do you like better, this one with the logs, which makes you feel nervous, or the one over there with the fence and the regular climber?”, I asked him.  “Well, I like this one better.”, he replied.  “You do? Even though it makes you feel nervous?”, I asked.  “Yeah, I mean, feeling nervous isn’t that bad.  It’s actually kind of exciting.  It’s harder to get to the top, and that other one is sort of for little kids.  Here it’s harder.  It’s harder to figure out how to climb it.  And I think that’s pretty good.”

So here for your enjoyment are photographs of the beautiful timber-log climbing structure I found today at Regent’s Park.  Stay tuned…tomorrow I should be getting to Apples and Pears Adventure Playground and several other spots as well…should be a good post tomorrow night.

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3 Comments
  1. I find given the choice, most children will choose the more unpredictable structures to explore. We have one of these in Kensington park in Bath where Bapp’s play rangers work. They are probably much more valuable to children because of their un-straight lines, their rough/slippery surfaces and intriging design. But then who says a crap worn out one isn’t just as good as an experience- maybe its what the kids can get out of it rather than what the space can give the kids. I plan to visit some local ‘KFC’ parks in my area (Bath and North East Somerset) and see what some playgrounds could improve on. I’m curious to see what the kids who are playing want, compared to what the parents observing want from the space. I think a lot more parents than are assumed actually want an exciting, challenging playground for their kids, but its just a trend from the 80s and 90s that the authorities who have these kitted parks designed, think that’s what children automatically should have and want.. I say Playground Revolution!!!!!
    ??
    Lily H

    • I think you’re right on a number of points, Lily….in my experience children usually gravitate towards the more unpredictable, novel, unique structures to explore when given the opportunity. Your thought about “maybe its what the kids can get out of it rather than what the space can give the kids” has been making me think all morning, actually! I’m wondering how to tease that idea apart a bit…give me a few more hours to think on it, it’s an interesting puzzle.
      I like the phrase ‘KFC parks’! Hadn’t heard that one before. And Playground Revolution….absolutely! Sounds exactly like what Rusty Keeler in the US has been saying to me in a few e-mails recently.
      By the way, compared to the US, I think you guys in the UK are already pretty revolutionary! You might not feel the same way, but in some important ways you’re light years ahead of us on play.
      David.

  2. Marina permalink

    Yeah…this is also similar to what I spotted near the hatch shell tonight..I was too far to see it, but now I am curious and I love Daniel’s thinking on this…kids are so clear about wanting the challenge….lorenzo said to me tonight…why do they even bother giving us summer homework that is so boring and un challenging…just hate that…. not about climbing but teen brain on the same wave length…

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