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Archive for the ‘PLAYGROUNDS’ Category

BY JANE ROY BROWN

How designers of Boston’s outdoor classrooms arrived at a “Kit of Parts” that really works.

How designers of Boston’s outdoor classrooms arrived at a “kit of parts” that really works.

From the May 2015 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

 “Ms. Thompson, what’s a log?” The question came from a kindergartener in a Boston elementary school in 2006, after his teacher (not her real name) read a story to the class about a possum hiding in a hollow log.

As shocking as the question may sound, teachers all over the country have fielded similar ones for years. By 2005, when Richard Louv’s Last Child in the Woods launched the term “nature-deficit disorder” into everyday use, generations of kids in some city neighborhoods had had no experience of woods, never mind logs.

Last Child in the Woods has sent all kinds of communities scrambling to offer some experience of nature to their children, and many of them have focused, logically enough, on schoolyards. As more landscape architects join the push to transform crumbling asphalt schoolyards into landscapes for play and learning, they might do worse than to take a page from the Boston Schoolyard Initiative (BSI).

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In May’s issue of LAM, the current lack of supply of native plant species in the United States shortchanges the potential for a more diverse landscape; Catherine Seavitt Nordenson, ASLA, leads a team at City College of New York to combine landscape architecture, climate science, and urban planning for better coastal resilience; and in Japan, Studio on Site’s persistence for the use of trees in its designs reconnects the city with nature.

In the departments, the Boston Schoolyard Initiative helps transform urban schoolyards into learning oases; open expanses in Vancouver’s Oppenheimer Park, designed by space2place and McFarlane Biggar, allow the peaceful coexistence of both homeless and local residential users; and Spurlock Poirier’s benched plans for San Diego have the potential to create a healthy, green network throughout the downtown area. All this plus our regular Now, Species, Goods, and Books columns. The full table of contents for May can be found here.

As always, you can buy this issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine at more than 200 bookstores, including many university stores and independents, as well as at Barnes & Noble. You can also buy single digital issues for only $5.25 at Zinio or order single copies of the print issue from ASLA. Annual subscriptions for LAM are a thrifty $59 for print and $44.25 for digital. Our subscription page has more information on subscription options.

Keep an eye out here on the blog, on the LAM Facebook page, and on our Twitter feed (@landarchmag), as we’ll be ungating May articles as the month rolls out.

Credits: “The Chain of Demand,” Courtesy the Pizzo Group; “The Storm We Don’t Know,” © 2015 Structures of Coastal Resilience, Jamaica Bay Team; “Trees For Tokyo,” Makoto Yoshida/Yoshida Photo Studio; “Just Add Nature,” Christian Phillips Photography; “Every Kinda People,” Courtesy space2place Design; “The Thin Green Lines,” Spurlock Poirier Landscape Architects and Joe Cordelle, Animate Digital Studio.

 

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March’s issue of LAM looks at the cultural and environmental consequences of sand mining in Wisconsin to supply the fracking industry; Lola Sheppard and Mason White’s influential research-driven practice, Lateral Office, in Toronto; and three new play spaces in Oregon designed by GreenWorks and Mayer/Reed that embrace nature-based play.

In this month’s departments, Chatham University in Pittsburgh closes its landscape architecture programSiteWorks has kids help turn New York City schoolyards into community parks; the winners of a 2014 ASLA Student Award of Excellence balance landscape and architecture in a home for a wounded veteran; Joni L. Janecki, ASLA, creates a drought-tough landscape for the Packard Foundation’s new headquarters near Palo Alto, California; Jane Wolff’s illustrated flashcards make the San Francisco Bay legible in Bay Lexicon; and we have numbers, however small, on landscape design’s growing impact on the economy. All this plus our regular Now, Species, Goods, and Books columns. The full table of contents for March can be found here.

As always, you can buy this issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine at more than 200 bookstores, including many university stores and independents, as well as at Barnes & Noble. You can also buy single digital issues for only $5.25 at Zinio or order single copies of the print issue from ASLA. Annual subscriptions for LAM are a thrifty $59 for print and $44.25 for digital. Our subscription page has more information on subscription options.

Keep an eye out here on the blog, on the LAM Facebook page, and on our Twitter feed (@landarchmag), as we’ll be ungating March articles as the month rolls out.

Credits: “Many Sand Counties,” Lonniewishart.com; “Eyes Northward,” Ashley Capp; “Go Wild, Oregon Child,” Courtesy GreenWorks, PC; “Chatham Shuts the Door,” © Chatham University 2015; “DIY, Kiddo,” The Trust for Public Land; “The Drought Will Tell,” Jeremy Bittermann; “Team Effort,” Thomas J. Manuccia; “Bay Q&A,” Jane Wolff.

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CHICAGO REVIVES RECESS

Recess is making a comeback, according to a recent article in Slate. For the first time in decades, all elementary school students attending Chicago Public Schools will have a 25-minute recess period planned into their day.  The article cites scientific research showing that children who get a 15-minute recess are more likely to pay attention in class the rest of the day.

After years without recess, many schools are not equipped to just open up the doors to the school yard and let the kids have at it. According to the Chicago Tribune, 98 elementary and middle schools in Chicago don’t have outdoor playgrounds.

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Playscapes

“The majority of existing playgrounds are still of the level asphalt type, with fixed equipment chosen from an ironmonger’s catalogue. Rarely is there grass, or trees, or flowers, or animals or any beauty. Children are increasingly condemned to live in a harsh, stark desert of hard surfacing. This antiseptic approach kills play stone dead…

It is the adventure playgrounds, where children can ‘do it themselves’, that are liberating, especially for those who live in the crowded cities and over-regulated and over-tidy housing estates. They are places where children can test themselves against new challenges in complete freedom.”

Lady Allen of Hurtwood wrote those words in her 1968 manifesto, Planning for Play. Hurtwood was an English landscape architect and one of the preeminent advocates for adventure playgrounds on both sides of the Atlantic. Finding vintage playground books can be a bit of a struggle, and the books can cost a pretty penny. But thanks to the blogger Paige Johnson, Hurtwood’s book is now available to inspire the next generation of playground designers

Johnson is a bit of a polymath; at her day job she works as a scientist  studying nano-structures. In her spare time she blogs about playground design and history at Playscapes(more…)

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Making play spaces more natural can be surprisingly complex. The Natural Learning Initiative, a design and assistance program of the College of Design, North Carolina State University, has partnered with PlayCore, a company that specializes in recreation products and programs, to create a guide to best practices that bring nature back to childrens’ playgrounds. NatureGrounds is available free on the NatureGrounds website, along with a searchable plant database. You can also get a copy by contacting PlayCore at info@playcore.com.

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Brumlebyen/Courtesy Monstrum

As kids head outdoors to enjoy the spring weather, it’s a good time to get some design inspiration from some inventive play spaces from around the world. Emily Temple at Flavorwire found 15 examples of stunning playgrounds by the likes of Isamu Noguchi, Monstrum, and BASE. The colorful, creative play spaces are worth checking out. And if you have a playground on the boards, check out LAM’s Goods column in June, where we round up play equipment that will keep kids entranced with their local playground.

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