Fun urbanism: Putting more people and more play in playgrounds

London Pools Playground (Photo: Studio Ludo)

From Medium: A Q & A with Meghan Talarowski about why London playgrounds are more active and draw more adults than in the USA:

The playgrounds are much more open-ended. They also have riskier, more adventurous elements, like giant tree houses or huge slides. So they attract a much wider age-range. A lot of the playgrounds here are very small. You can’t get high up, which is something people like: giant swings, big spinners, tall slides. There’s a lot of physical stimulation in the environment there. I was seeing people 85 years old going down three-story tall slides. When Grandma is climbing three, four sets of stairs over and over again to go on these slides, you know there’s something special happening.

 

Fun (and serious) Urbanism – Child-friendly cities

The Guardian just published an article What Would the Ultimate Child-Friendly City Look Like? which details what five cities are doing to make their outdoor spaces and transportation systems really kid-friendly. We have Age-Friendly Northfield looking at how to make Northfield better for older adults, but what about kids?

Right now, Northfield is somewhat kid-friendly if you happen to live in the right neighborhood. My East Side neighborhood is a good place for a kids – say, 10 years old –  to independently travel on foot or bike to the library, swimming pool, and parks.Other neighborhoods face bigger obstacles like needing to Highway 3. Walking or biking to school is unsafe for many, even those who live close to schools.

What would a truly child-friendly Northfield look like?

Really not kid-friendly

 

Fun urbanism: Age-friendly edition

As someone who is only temporarily middle-aged, I’m hoping to live in a place where being old is not made more difficult by my built environment. Northfield might be that place by the time I get old.  The Northfield City Council just heard a presentation from a group working for an Age-Friendly Northfield using the AARP Age-Friendly Communities model which could help make our streets, neighborhoods, and human connections better for older people (and younger ones, too – think of the 8-80 idea).

But beyond friendly, What about fun?  Here are some playgrounds for seniors (and anyone else):

London Senior Playground (Photo: Guardian)

London Senior Playground (Photo: Guardian Cities)

Fun urbanism: Another slide

Back in 2013, I posted about a couple of fun urban slides, and here’s another one. The ArcelorMittal Orbit sculpture created by Anish Kapoor for the London Olympics in 2012 is going to get funner in 2016 by adding a slide:

Peter Tudor, Director of Visitor Services, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, said: “What more exciting way to descend the ArcelorMittal Orbit than on the world’s longest and tallest tunnel slide. We are committed to ensuring our visitors have the best possible day out every time they visit Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, and as with all our venues, we are constantly exploring ways to ensure we lead the way with the latest visitor experience. This slide really will give a different perspective of Britain’s tallest sculpture.”

ArcelorMittal slide (Image: Huffington Post)

ArcelorMittal slide (Image: Huffington Post)

Fun urbanism – design your own fun

Play is important for learning, exercise, community-building, and fun.  Although one can play pretty much anywhere, some places just invite a bit more playful interaction.

So here’s the PlayScapes competition to choose a design to recycle a not very good place into a playful, productive place.

“Ask yourself where is that part of the city that is underused, undervalued, by-passed everyday because it’s unsafe, dirty or just so boring that no one notices it.”

 

Fun urbanism – more slides

British football fans may soon be able to have more fun than just the game at St. James Park in Newcastle.  Slides from the stadium seating 53,000 to the parking area and train station are planned and waiting for approval.  Utrecht’s “travel accelerators” got the ball sliding, so to speak, and Newcastle is looking to make the slides part of a pocket park near the stadium.  As one of the slide designers noted: “We want people to ride the slide, then go up the stairs and do it again.”

There is one other sliding possibility in Newcastle already – a 230m zip line from the Tyne Bridge across the Tyne River.