Landscape Review - What's new in play

Play equipment trends have evolved to reflect interest in natural play and technology developments, says Jack Shamash.

Playdale's IPlay range - image: Playdale
Playdale's IPlay range - image: Playdale

Play equipment has changed dramatically as manufacturers try to meet customers' needs and Government demands. Although manufacturers will stock traditional items, they are increasingly developing equipment that reflects new patterns of children's play.

Reflecting interest in "natural play", some are supplying items made of timber rather than brightly-coloured steel. Playdale is marketing its Jungle Climbers - natural coloured logs that form climbing frames. Like most manufacturers, it spends more time designing playgrounds for clients rather than simply selling and installing equipment.

The interest in wooden equipment has shaken up the industry. Playworld, for example, which specialises in metal equipment, has joined forces in the UK with Lappset, which specialises in wooden play items, to sell more natural play equipment.

Meanwhile, more firms are trying to incorporate new technology into playgrounds. Playdale has introduced an Iplay product. This is a steel frame on which children can perform a series of challenging tasks. The frame has a computerised counter so local authorities can see how many people use it.

Lappset/Playworld says it is "bringing technology into the traditional play environment". Lappset has developed equipment that can interact with mobile phones. Playworld has introduced the Neos 360, which contains loudspeakers that can be linked to iPods and MP3 players.

Similarly, Kompan has introduced its Icon range, based on the successful Galaxy climbing structures. Screens and interactive equipment have been built in to provide a more exciting environment.

Another new development is exercise machines being produced by play manufacturers. Swedish firm HAGS has produced four machines - the Bico incorporates sit ups, chin ups and back lifts; the Serra exercises the legs and also features a punch bag; the Flexo is a bike and step machine; and the Tibaff is a hand-cycle and rowing machine.

Danish firm Kompan recently installed six machines to offer exercise to older people in Hyde Park, London. It says the positive publicity associated with the launch has led to a lot of interest. The fitness apparatus, aimed at people over 15, includes upper body trainers and exercise bikes.

Kompan is also producing a large number of items expressly designed to promote motor skills in toddlers. These include swings that toddlers can lie on and push themselves, without help from adults.

There has been a move towards accepting a reasonable level of risk in play. Some companies, such as HAGS, are marketing concrete rocks with climbing holds. Record RSS is promoting steel equipment that is fast-moving and exciting. Marketing manager Gary Wallis explains: "People do want a higher level of excitement. You can fall off our equipment, but you won't fall very far."

The British-made steel equipment includes a mini roller coaster called the Rigderider and various swinging devices. The firm also produces a wooden Eco range, which it suggests contributes to natural play. Wallis says: "Natural play isn't just about using wood. It's about having the right kind of materials for the setting and encouraging children to learn through play in a natural way."

There are also greater moves towards inclusion. SMP boasts that its products allow people with a wide range of ages and abilities - able-bodied and disabled - to play together. It has two new roundabouts and a rope swing that it says can be used by almost anyone.


Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Sign up now
Already registered?
Sign in

Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus

Read These Next

Phygelius

Phygelius

Masses of colourful tubular flowers can give these plants a substantial presence in the border, says Miranda Kimberley.

Tomorrow's tractors

Tomorrow's tractors

These machines have advanced rapidly over recent years but what does the future hold? Sally Drury looks ahead.

Tractors - Maintenance models

Tractors - Maintenance models

The tractors chosen by professionals across the sector reflect the best features, backup and support on offer, says Sally Drury.


Horticulture Jobs
More Horticulture Jobs

Industry Data

An exclusive report for HW subscribers revealing the key development trends, clients and locations for 2017.

Are you a landscape supplier?

Horticulture Week Landscape Project Leads

If so, you should be receiving our new service for Horticulture Week subscribers delivering landscape project leads from live, approved, planning applications across the UK.

Landscape Contracts & Tenders

Products & Kit Resources

BALI National Landscape Awards 2016

Read all about the winning projects in the awards, run in association with Horticulture Week.

Noel Farrer

Founding partner of Farrer Huxley Associates Noel Farrer on landscape and green space
 

Read Noel Farrer