Creating a playground

When helping the design team and owner design and build key playground features, a great sense of responsibility encompasses the task. The environments in which today’s children play can help shape their future and the future of the world around us, so it must be done cautiously and intentionally. In Loveland, Colorado, we had the opportunity to help provide a solution for playground walls and climbers. The client wanted to bring the natural Colorado feel to the playground and encourage imaginative and explorative play. With di Giacomo artisan rocks, this aligned with our goals and vision.The playground walls were approximately 12’ high, and after some discussion, we decided as a team we wanted them to be the subliminal source of much of the natural sandstone found throughout the rest of the park. With the great elevation changes of the features, we were able to create dramatic rocks while encouraging safe zones for climbing and exploration. We wanted children to be explorers and feel like they were adventurers discovering nature.

Mehaffey Park-1

Artificial tunnel log made out of concrete with natural daylight and peak holes

Artificial tunnel log made out of concrete with natural daylight and peak holes

Planting "pockets" should never be punched into rocks, but incorporated into the design early

Planting “pockets” should never be punched into rocks, but incorporated into the design early

Mehaffey Park-4

Talus is an important element of rock work

Talus is an important element of rock work

di Giacomo artisan rock work at Mehaffey park in Loveland

di Giacomo artisan rock work at Mehaffey park in Loveland

di Giacomo artisan rock work at Mehaffey park in Loveland

di Giacomo artisan rock work at Mehaffey park in Loveland

di Giacomo artisan rock work at Mehaffey park in Loveland

di Giacomo artisan rock work at Mehaffey park in Loveland

 

To pull off the final product though, we had to step back. We explored nearby outcroppings, including the quarry in which the site’s sandstone was being sourced. We took into consideration the orientation of the playground elements with the surround geology and took into account the effect of geomorphology of our rock features amongst its setting. In the coloration, we looked to nearby formations and studied their natural weathering patterns. But the most important element was in the social responsibility we have when creating features for people, especially children. We created elements for the cautious climbers, areas for bigger kids to explore, areas for parents and caretakers to sit and watch the children (or even better, interact with the children), all while maintaining safe visibility for parents watching their little ones and space where children feel safe in their adventures.

You see, when creating artificial rock features for interactive play, it is so much more than the concrete and construction that goes into each element. And when done with both the geomorphology and social responsibility in mind, the best rock work and play features emerge naturally.

 

 

di Giacomo artisan rock work at Mehaffey park in Loveland

di Giacomo artisan rock work at Mehaffey park in Loveland