4) Visiting a local park
Visit a local park to aid research and development and to evaluate present design. Take photographs and sketches of the playpark area and individual play equipment. Draw a plan of the playpark showing its boundaries, fencing, paths and surrounding features. (You may need to explain to park staff and parents with toddlers using the park why you are taking photographs.)
- Where is the playground located within the park, and what else is nearby?
- What play equipment is there?
- What is the function of each piece of equipment? How is it intended to be used by children?
- Which pieces are static and which are designed to move? How do children operate them?
- Which loads and forces are applied in their use?
- What risks are involved and how have these been minimised?
- How are children in wheelchairs or with visual impairment able to use this equipment?
- What surface is the equipment erected on?
- What is the condition of the play equipment, ground surface and surrounding features? Is anything missing? Why?
- What is damaged or broken? How has this happened?
- Is the playground open or enclosed? If it is enclosed, why has this been done?
Examine equipment closely
- What materials is it constructed of? Why were they chosen?
- How resistant are the materials to extreme weather conditions?
- Are there standardised structural components which would simplify the manufacturing process?
- How are components assembled and attached together?
- What techniques were used to shape and form different structural elements?
- How is the equipment fixed in position?
- What are the aesthetic qualities of the equipment? How have functional elements been made more visually appealing? What elements are purely decorative?
- What colours are used and why?
- What maintenance might be needed?
If there are parents in the play area during your visit, some might be willing to be interviewed. As potential users of future play equipment students could consult with them about their needs and wants for a play area, both for their children and themselves? Prepare questions in advance.
It may also be possible to talk to park staff about issues relating to the management of the playpark. Again, prepare focussed questions in advance.