Although much brighter and safer, playground equipment hasn’t really changed very much over the years. Traditional playground equipment such as slides, roundabouts, swings and climbing frames still populate our playgrounds today.
Imaginative playground design provides exciting equipment that is physically challenging and fun to look at. Timber and steel are still the main materials used in equipment. Safety standards and surfacing have improved so children are less likely to hurt themselves while playing on the equipment.
The first playgrounds were invented in Germany and were based on military training equipment. In the United Kingdom, the first playground equipment was built to entertain the children of factory workers.
Children probably invented their own playground equipment using pieces of wood and rope to make swings hanging from trees. Timber and rope will have also been used by adults in more formal playground designs. These two materials allow the construction of swings, climbing frames and monkey bars. Metal rivets and bolts made sure that the build was secure.
During the 1970s steel swings, slides, climbing frames and roundabouts were popular. Safety wasn’t high on the priorities of designers so slides were lethal and roundabouts left lasting scars on knees. Particularly agile children seemed to defy gravity when climbing the dome-shaped climbing frames. There were no limits as to how high swings would go and every sway could lead to imminent danger.
Playground surfacing tended to be concrete or grass if you were lucky and coming home with bruises and scuffs was just part of the fun. Traditional playground equipment leaves very little room for imaginative play which sparked the craze for adventure playgrounds.
Adventure playgrounds were either structured or unstructured. The structured ones were very similar to the play towers we see today while the unstructured playgrounds encouraged heuristic play. Both were designed to appeal to the inner creativity of children and to recreate the free play that many of their parents enjoyed.
Modern playground equipment combines physical and imaginative play and follows safety guidelines so playing is not such a dangerous experience. It is still made from steel, timber and rubber but a lot more thought has gone into safety and inclusion.
The Association Of Play Industries is a trade association for companies that design and sell playground equipment. Each member has to fulfil a professional code of conduct in order to remain an accredited member. Membership involves adhering to design standards that both challenge and stimulate children as well as following safety guidelines. Members also have to remain financially viable in order to guarantee that they can fulfil their orders.
Playdale is a founding member of API and continues to adhere to safety regulations and design regulations. Our playground equipment designs incorporate the thrills and risks of traditional equipment with safety and accessibility. Equipment is available in timber or steel and every piece is replaceable so that it lasts for decades. Children of all ages can enjoy equipment built specifically to suit different age ranges and schools install a wide variety of educational playground equipment.
The basic materials may not have changed very much over the decades but a greater understanding of play and safety has changed the designs considerably.
If you would like to find out more about our playground equipment please contact us and we would be delighted to discuss your options.
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