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.
As Minnesotans know, the end of winter brings green leaves and potholes. Fixing potholes and repairing sidewalks are important Spring tasks, but in the meantime perhaps we might simply enjoy them with The Pothole Gardener.
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
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):
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.”
Seek and you shall find…fun stuff
Thanks to my architect friend, Steve for this more contemplative installment of fun urbanism: animals in/on/near Helsinki architecture
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.
Subzero temps here in Minnesota, but no snow and no (cross country) skiing which makes this winter uninspiring at best. So, here’s today’s fun urbanism from East London’s Pothole Gardener.
Not ADA-compliant, but fun.
Fun, as a design tool in urbanism, is increasingly used to make people proud and cautious of their environment says Pop Up City in a post on a “waterbed” pavement by artist collective Raum in Bourges, France. The undulating pavement, in turn, “questions the hardness of the city and its ability to change.”
Oh dear, that really takes the fun out of it. Fun, as a urban design tool, invites people to play instead of doing things the usual way, often fostering human interactions, too. Usually low-cost, private “interventions” to get our attention: Stairs or slide? Stairs or escalator? Swings or bench? Fun side effects might include more physical activity, more conversations, more reasons to play in the city. Play helps spark innovation, too, for other creative problem solving, but first let’s play without the pseudo philosophy.