A battle in modern design is being waged between those who think the future is horizontal and those that think it is vertical. Maybe battle is too strong of word—but there are two contrasting styles to be seen. Vertical forms save precious ground-level square footage. Architecturally, the design is usually more complex given that rooms or compartments are stacked on top of one another and adjustments in materials must be made to endure increased weight. Horizontal creations allow features to flow together, mostly parallel with one another on the ground level. Either style is fine, just as long as the manner of approach captures the essence of the site.
Going vertical in San Mateo County is an enormous castle-tower in the Magic Mountain Playground. Looming over the rest of the playground equipment on site, which have a horizontal feel, this behemoth seems to rise up amongst the clouds and allows a kid to go up, up and away—and then slide down. Features like this one make a playground pop. Not only does it take a visitor’s breath away, it is something that makes a place for itself in the memory banks of a child.
Vertical is exactly how to categorize this masterpiece for obvious reasons; what isn’t so obvious are the intricacies that take place inside. They include stair cases, lookouts, and places to hide—and all flow vertically. The other route, Horizontal, can be seen in the castle themed Apple Hill Park. Walk ways connect slides and ladders with tic-tac-toe boards and a climbing tower. The tower adds one vertical element, but the playground is largely flat. For smaller playgrounds, going horizontal can be more appealing to those at play because more space is directly available from ground level, aiding in accessibility.
When it comes right down to it, both styles can be smart, attractive, and fun.