Patricia McGirr, Chair - Carey Clouse, Member
This project focuses on urban playgrounds in the Boston metropolitan area in Massachusetts. Since 1995, renovations implemented through the Boston Schoolyards Initiative (BSI) have transformed school playgrounds into more vibrant environments for children. Nonetheless, these playgrounds may provide further opportunities for innovative designs that help promote creativity.
In the twenty-first century, children seem to be more interested in exploring the world of digital technology rather than spending time outdoors. However, the outdoor environment provides a great medium for children to explore and learn along with other children, which cannot be experienced via technology. One of the challenges that prevents children from wanting to spend time outdoors is the fact that the majority of children's playscapes consist of standard play equipment and structures from manufacturers' catalogs. Many playscapes have play structures that can be found in any region in the United States, although conventional designs are not as popular as they were in the past. Regrettably, manufacturers are more concerned with making profits, meeting adults' requirements, limiting liability, and abiding by safety standards than with piquing children's interests (Heseltine and Holborn, 1987). Nevertheless, children can shape the future, and therefore it is important to provide them with environments that encourage cerebral development and facilitate new social interactions (Moore 1986). Most public playgrounds in Boston have become too safe and consequently do not provide opportunities for growth and creativity. Progressive countries in Europe, such as Germany and England, have many provocative playgrounds that promote social interaction and child development. It is important to recognize that children's playscapes may also represent an integral part of the landscape and regional identity. Landscape architects have the tools and vision to design innovative playscapes that provide dynamic play environments for children in this technology-driven era. This project aims to provide a toolbox for institutional leaders and designers to utilize during the visioning and design process, the purpose of which is to furnish various play amenities at low cost and to serve as a creative element for elementary school children from kindergarten to fifth grade.