There is a town in Finland where planting berry bushes in kindergarten yards is prohibited, for reasons of health and safety. The belief is that, if children learn to eat berries straight from the bush at day care, they may think that all berries are safe to eat and may die from poisoning. Are these people serious? Playgrounds with steel fences separating different functions for ease of maintenance and supervision, as they cannot be climbed on, are in my opinion simply oppressive. Is there really no other way except a steel fence to separate the swings from other activities? How about placing the swings on a raised level, or building a balance beam as a space divider – and yes, with the purpose that it is walked and balanced on, naturally taking into account the necessary safety distance. Climbing and balancing is good for kids.
The best playground is one that effortlessly incorporates itself into the surrounding landscape and plants and that is naturally attractive to children. Since small children in a playground need to be accompanied by an adult, the playground must be attractive for adults as well. If the designer succeeds in evoking and making use of the natural spirit of the place and sees that children enjoy the opportunities offered by the site, she can congratulate herself for a job well done.
Original text and photos: Eeva Blomberg
Eeva Blomberg is a landscape designer, contract administrator and the president of Maisemasuunnittelijat ry, a Finnish association for landscape designers. She is also in the board and in the education team of The Finnish Association of Landscape Industries, Viherympäristöliitto ry VYL, and writes columns to a Finnish landscape industry magazine called Viherympäristö. Eeva is a designer horticulturist and a garden teacher. Her company Pihasuunnittelu Eeva Blomberg was established in 1998.
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