Growing up, you probably had a favorite park that you liked to visit. What was it that you loved about the park? Maybe it had a large winding slide, swings that went high or green space for picnic lunches. Now that you are in charge of designing a park for your community, you have to consider what will drive young families to visit.
Fortunately, you don’t have to start completely from scratch. There are certain design principles you can follow to ensure your park has an efficient design and provides an optimal experience. After working in this field since 1966 and building thousands of playgrounds over the years, here are some features that lead to an ideal park design.
Inclusive and Multigenerational
Great parks make you feel great when you arrive. They have an open design with lots of space to move around and plenty of activities for everyone to enjoy. Inclusive parks should offer the same experience to everyone, regardless of their age, gender, cultural background or abilities. To do this, your space will need inclusive playground equipment, sensory aspects, wide pathways and accessible amenities.
We also believe that optimal park designs should create opportunities for multigenerational play. More and more designers are making it a priority to create hybrid designs that allow baby boomers to interact and engage with their grandchildren, and for parents to interact with their children. Places the entire family can play, stay fit and interact together.
Welcoming and Accommodating
Not only should the best parks be inclusive but also accommodating to all visitors. To accomplish this, a great park design should offer many amenities and accommodations such as park benches, picnic tables, trash cans, shade structures and bike/scooter parking. The goal is to create a comfortable space that accommodates visitors’ needs so that they can get the wellness benefits of being outdoors with others.
Sustainable and Resilient
Great parks aren’t just good for people. They’re also good for wildlife - birds, insects, soil organisms and aquatic life. They might also complement the natural surroundings by incorporating rocks, boulders, tree stumps, ponds, walkways, trees and shrubs into the design. There is no need to take everything down and start from scratch. Optimal park designs enhance the nearby landscape - not take away from it.
Safe and Easy to Maintain
It’s imperative that parks and playgrounds follow the latest safety guidelines. This may include installing safety surfacing under playground equipment, addressing drainage issues and using signage in the form of maps and descriptive text. Many of the amenities you choose for your park will also make your space safer, such as park benches for taking breaks and shade to protect against sun damage.
You will also benefit from a comprehensive maintenance plan. This type of plan will outline who is responsible for taking care of the park and its equipment, the schedule they will follow and the types of inspections being done: periodic and routine. Always choose a certified playground inspector to perform audits, inspections and ADA assessments.
Timeless, With Cultural Influences
Last, a great park design will be timeless and have cultural influences that give them context. Many park designs are blending together the physical and digital worlds to make them more appealing to older kids and teens. For example, interactive play components from Yalp are trendy and relevant, plus provide opportunities to get your park on social media.
Parks are changing, and it’s important to be aware of these trends so that your space can flourish. To discuss your ideas for an optimal park design, contact Cunningham Recreation. We can help you create a park that everyone in your community will love!