13 September 2011

Natural play equipment remains popular

Natural play equipment fuels children's imaginations

When the government launched the Playbuilder/Pathfinder scheme three years ago, the introduction of Play England’s ten design principles for play saw the emergence of a new trend for playgrounds across the country – natural play equipment.

After years of installations of large steel structures, increasingly abstract playground equipment and the developing trend of electronic outdoor play, communities and local authorities across the UK began to move away from these trends to appreciate the aesthetics of natural play. Blending seamlessly into the natural environment, and encouraging children to use their imaginations; a whole new genre of play equipment was born.

Logs and boulders became makeshift seats and clambering obstacles, while climbing frames took on a new, more natural appearance. The development of the Jungle Climbers range identified a huge gap in the market for attractive, abstract climbing structures that encouraged children to develop long-forgotten adventurous skills such as climbing trees. 

Natural play equipment remains popular today, and also works well alongside some traditional items of playground equipment too. For example, stainless steel slides can sit on top of natural embankments to create a new dimension in the playground, while natural-looking mounds can also be created, with tunnels stretching through them, to create a fun ‘underground’ appearance that children love.

Other dynamic items that sit well within a natural environment include the much loved aerial runway and timber adventure trail equipment such as canyon bridges and webnets. For inspiration, you can view a gallery of sites influenced by natural play equipment, and start planning your new play area.

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