Tag Archives: sequestered space

Reforming play equipment and surfacing Standards: a few thoughts

I think it fair to say that within the broad community of play advocates – play designers, landscape architects, play provision providers, pedagogues – play equipment and surfacing Standards have not been a hot topic of debate or contention. For some they were, and continue to be, a form of assurance as to the ‘safety’ of a product; and, in addition, they may even be taken as a proxy indicator of that quasi-mystical quality: play value.

For others, Standards in their current form are a source of bemusement, if not irritation, seen as impeding the possibility of creating rich and varied play environments.

But what this diverse constituency  has in common,  is the shared sense that play equipment and surface Standards descend as from on high, are created via processes and people they know not, but whose pronouncements  have the force and authority of Holy Writ, to be adhered to, but not questioned.

That was then. Now is now.  

‘Now’ is marked by the steady growth, and the coming together, of a diverse  constituency of pedagogues, play advocates, academics, designers, individuals from within Standard-making bodies, all seized of the need to examine Standards, how they are formulated, who formulates them, their scope and their practical consequences ‘on the ground’.   And this constituency is growing. Continue reading

Schools grounds: the peculiar status of school grounds (2)

I wrote recently about the peculiar UK notion that school grounds should  be sequestered, fenced or walled enclaves effectively unavailable for easy use by the school’s local community.  The fact that school grounds are sometimes used for planned and organised ‘community’ events does nothing to weaken the points I sought to make.

Particularly in areas where general park or open space is limited, this barricading against wider community use seems particularly ill-judged.  Other countries manage things differently, Sweden for one, and parts – I do not have full information – of the USA, certainly.

Photos by Sharon Danks, Bay Tree Design

Photos by Sharon Danks, Bay Tree Design

I happen to be  in Berkeley, California, at the moment, and here some school at least have a more open policy.   The pictures are of the signs at the boundaries marking the dividing line between school and park;  park and street.  The park section is used by the school during school time, and is open to the wider community at all other times.  It takes but a minute’s thought to appreciate that the ‘rest of  the time’, is quite substantial: after school, weekends, school holidays.


The signs raise questions, for example, why is the park closed when kids are in school time? ‘Stranger danger’, I hear you say. Well, perhaps that’s a valid reason. Or perhaps that reason is freighted with assumptions that it is time to challenge.  But that is not the point of this short piece.  My aim is simply to share with you the signs, and what they bespeak.