21 May It’s Time to Play, Naturally
Playgrounds are changing. Some commercial playground equipment is following the space age, using new high-tech materials and freeform designs that might be right at home on a space station. But, more of today’s customers are also demanding something different: natural play.
Contrary to what some people have heard, the natural play movement is not simply placing some old tree trunks in a field. Although designers have done visually appealing playgrounds with different materials, it is possible to purchase specifically manufactured products to bring nature into the playground.
The greatest growth today is in GFRC items – items which look like they are really from nature, but are each made to meet exacting specifications and safety standards. Buyers can choose from a wide variety of hollow log crawls, benches, stump steps, and all manner of climbing boulders which are made from specially reinforced and tinted concretes. These items are carefully textured and protected to provide the right mix of grip and smooth for young hands.
Another part of the nature play movement is minimalistic, the concept that less is more. Rather than traditional structures of brightly colored panels or plastic roofs and slides, the playground designer can now choose items like rope web climbers which are very transparent in their construction. Children can have huge adventures, and still appreciate the natural vista on the other side of their playground. Natural color options like browns or greens can also help the products blend with their surroundings.
Play can happen anywhere, and now natural play can be put into any playground.