Archive for October, 2009

Great Heights Lead to Effective Sites…

October 29, 2009

Although it may seem like a basic concept, height can play a key role in how popular your playground is. Adding height to a playground is very advantageous to a site for a few reasons. One, the site is more noticeable from further away, especially if it can be seen from more major roadways and streets. Two, when a visitor approaches the site, they will instantly notice the theme and the colors directly, however indirectly, how large and tall the site is will have an effect on how impressed they are by it. Lastly, the height will usually determine how entertaining the site is. Stairways, tall slides, multiple decks, climbers and poles all contribute to greater heights and more entertainment, whereas flat sites are less fun to be on because the tend to be simply dull.

Tower Slide

The size of this slide deck is truly huge. Its height is about three stories and can be seen from all around!

Expanding on the last point, sites that are overall close to the ground are boring in appearance and in function. Which would you rather do: climb up a tall rock wall and venture on multiple decks that increase in elevation with each new one, all before shooting down a massive slide… or balance six inches off the ground on a beam before hitting the mini-slide. Well, hopefully if you are a child you would want to do both, but if you had to choose one it would probably be the first scenario. The point is, having features with more height usually equates to more fun.

This bubble climber is thin and tall in proportion, so it adds the perception of height.

Feature Boundary at Vintage Green Valley Park

In terms of appearance, tall heights are much more appealing and noticeable than short heights. This is do to the fact that usually taller features are more complex than shorter ones and will also be picked up by the eye easier. It all seems pretty basic, until you see a playground that completely lacks height and then this point suddenly registers as important. So, remember that height plays a major factor in a site’s success—and the taller the better.

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Covering can add tremendous height as well as advantageous shade cover.

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New Technology in Playground Paint Coatings to Protect Against Bacteria…

October 27, 2009

Currently, improving health conditions is a big issue in this country. Hand sanitizers and frequent washing is a great way for everyone to stay clean. However, children may be less likely to partake in regular, health sustaining practices. For this reason, Miracle Recreation Company has invented a new technique for minimizing the spread of germs in one of the most common areas for children to physically interact with each other–the playground. Specifically, a new technology has been combined into the paint coatings of playgrounds, called Mira-Cote™, which acts as an anti-microbial agent that works against all sorts of harmful organisms… including bacteria, fungus, and algae. Plus, Mira-Cote™ is also resistant to mold and mildew… a function that will decrease the rate in which the equipment breaks down.

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Think about all the places at a playground children touch; now think about how many germs could be reduced with bacteria fighting paint!

Mira-Cote™ will truly improve the safety of a playground, in a more non-traditional way. Normally, playground safety is associated with rules such as ‘no horse-play’ and ‘using the equipment in the way it is designed to be used,’ but with anti-microbial paint, safety is taken to another, often less thought of level. By taking the time during the design stages of a playground to incorporate all those well-being encouraging technologies available, the site is greatly improved.

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Handles, rails, and grips can all be coated so heavily touched areas don't produce bacteria.

Mira-Cote™ also comes in a wide range of colors, so it can be implemented in a large array of themes and designs. This feature of anti-microbial paint increases the frequency in which it can be used. The more sites the better. Anti-microbial paint is truly a groundbreaking invention that will absolutely improve the lives of children.

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Anti-microbial paint also protects against mold and mildew so breakdown doesn't occur as quickly.

Push the Envelope with Custom Climbers and Overhead Challenges!

October 25, 2009
Contemporary and Non-Traditional Overhead Climbing Features Intrigue Park Visitors and Add Uniquness to a Playground.

Contemporary and Non-Traditional Overhead Climbing Features Intrigue Park Visitors and Add Uniquness to a Playground.

Non-traditional climbers are rising quickly in today’s contemporary playground market. No longer are monkey-bars the only feature of this style on the block. Instead there are a wide array of climbers such as rock walls, overhead challenges, and many others available. Most of these climbers are straight forward and can be actualized in most playscape sites very easily. However, if you are looking to push the envelope a little further, there is something out there for you. If you think of a regular climber as part of an obstacle course, you will look at some models as though they are mazes…

With so many custom design options out there, from Miracle Playsystems, almost any overhead or climbing challenge you can imagine can be created. For instance, a series of climbers can be linked together to form an original creation. Or, an entirely new piece can be designed just for you, using existing parts and ideas. The designers are out there and are just waiting for you to use harness their expertise so that this growing industry can be pushed another step further.

Take a look at the climbing feature pictured. It has roots in an existing feature, but it has been expanded upon and an entirely new piece has been created. Originality is the name of the game in this complex world and for children to be excited about visiting your site, fresh features such as this need to be implemented. The spotlight feature of the week is not just a single model, but rather the entire concept of original overhead challenged and climbers. Keep pushing those ideas forward!

Tradition Meets Technology… The Modern Slide

October 22, 2009

Perhaps the playground mainstay—the constant—is the slide. Now, over the years slides have grown in height and width, they have become more twisted, and they can be found in almost any color. One thing is always the same with slides though, they do their job day in and day out—they entertain children. The design is so basic. Gravity takes hold of someone at the top and the slide guides that person all the way to the bottom… safely. What a thrill!

Multiple short slides offer heightened access while still providing entertainment.

Multiple short slides offer heightened access while still providing entertainment.

Because slides have always been one of the most popular playground features, having a few of them on one playground is a good idea. Doing this will decongest the playground and allow more slide rides per child. Sometimes the slides at a playground are the same, and sometimes they are different from one another… it really doesn’t matter which way you go, just as long as there is a purpose behind the design. For instance, if there are identical slides next to each other, children can race. If the slides are different and spaced apart, kids can experience different rides.

This four deck high great slide is a playground centerpiece

Great Slide at Magic Mountain

A slide can also be the main attraction of a site. A playground’s centerpiece needs to be something eye-catching, exciting, and unique. Having a slide fit this build may be a challenge, but if executed correctly, it is well worth it. For a slide to play the leading role, it probably needs to be tall so that the ride is longer. The form can take on the shape of a resting snake… curling around and around. Or the slide can appear as a ski slope, providing a fast and furious experience.

Spiral slides can be small like the one connected to the right of this ship shaped playground, or much, much larger.

Spiral slides can be small like the one connected to the right of this ship shaped playground, or much, much larger.

Whichever shape a slide takes, or however many slides are at one location, the main idea to capture is tradition meeting modern technology. Slides will always be around at playgrounds. With such a simple design to start from, it is fun to see the bar raised to promote uniqueness, experience, and whatever theme. While gravity does all the work, children can have all the fun.

The Right Color Scheme will Add Attractiveness to Your Site

October 20, 2009
Bright colors stand out and work well.

Bright colors stand out and work well.

The colors of a playground are identifiable and can be broken down on a few levels. First, how bright the colors are will determine how noticeable the site is from a distance. Second, how well the color scheme fits into the surrounding area will contribute to the site’s fluidity and essence. Lastly, the color scheme itself needs to work well within itself so that they don’t clash with each other, never mind the surrounding area. If a design can succeed at all these levels, the colors of a playground will no doubt be an added attraction to the site… and not a hindrance.

On a sunny day, colors will... well, show their true colors.

On a sunny day, colors will... well, show their true colors.

Bright colors are more noticeable that dull colors. Obvious as this seems, it is important to remember this point during the design stages of a playground because once the parts are ordered and construction begins, although it is possible to still get replacements, valuable time will be lost in switching out colors. Bright colors are ones like fire-engine red, glossy blue, and hot green. With these colors, your site will be as conspicuous as gold.

Together, bright colors mixed in with a great scheme will impress most every visitor.

Together, bright colors mixed in with a great scheme will impress most every visitor.

A site’s color scheme should match the area around it. If the site is next to a forested area, perhaps blues, greens, and browns would be best—of course add in some bright oranges or yellows on some key features. In a fielded area, maybe a red, orange, and yellow site would be best—with some blue shade structures for brightness.

The color scheme of a playground is tremendously important in that if it works, great, but if it doesn’t, it is quite noticeable. Be sure to know your colors are the ones you want and match each other before you order. At Miracle, we will make sure of this for you. When dealing with colors, keep the brightness, the scheme, and the surrounding area in mind.

The Spotlight Feature of the Week: the Rope Climber

October 18, 2009
Technology and innovation allowed for the creation of the Rope Climber.

Technology and innovation allowed for the creation of the Rope Climber.

What’s that playscape feature standing tall and stretching out its nets over that playground over there? It’s the Rope Climber, from Miracle Recreation Company. This interesting climbing product comes together thanks to innovation and technology from one of the leaders in the playground industry. It is no surprise that this feature is one of the most popular around once you see it up close and climb around on it. Not only is the Rope Climber entertaining for children, it is also visually appealing so it draws new visitors into your site.

With its tallest point at the center, the Rope Climber has rope arms that branch out from all side and intertwine using many rope connections. Because of its complexity, this great piece offers children a place to test their balance, strength, and focus. Really, the Rope Climber was created to impress those who use it—both through its form and purpose.

Being standalone is a great attribute of the Rope Climber. This allows it to be constructed at existing playgrounds and also implemented easily into new playground designs. If you are a designer, be sure to add this feature into your next rendering to see how it looks; chances are it will improve your designs range by adding complexity and variety. Technology and innovation were needed to produce this unique playground feature, the Rope Climber… making it the spotlight feature of the week.

Increase Playground Versatility and Cater to Many Visitors

October 15, 2009

Miracle Recreation Company has made versatile features available and ready to implement in one playground, without the ordeal of shopping around. The selection from this company is just huge. For a playground to be successful, a number of different aspects must be addressed. Some of these include fluidity, accessibility, and also versatility. Miracle Recreation Company has made all of these attainable through their different lines, but one aspect—versatility—this brand caters to stands out in the industry as their vast selection directly caters to playground versatility.

A variety of climbers... the rock wall, the Orb-x, and the net climber.

A variety of climbers... the rock wall, the Orb-x, and the net climber.

Three playground features in specific showcase Miracle’s versatility—through the example of climbing. These climbers are the rock wall, the Orb-x, and the net. These three options all represent the climber category, but as you can see, they are all different and can all be implemented in a site’s design to provide a varied climbing experience. The rock wall is perhaps the most straight forward climber. Most visitors will instantly recognize its form and will know how to use it. From this piece, the idea is anchored.

Balance is tested on the net climber.

Balance is tested on the net climber.

At the site now and done with the rock wall, the visitors notice the net climber and give it a try. The net climber is a little harder to use and provides a challenge to more versed climbers. Its ropes flex and force one making their way through them to harness all their balance skills. Balance is one of the benefits of play actually and can be greatly improved on climbers. Next, the visitor eyes the Orb-x. Not exactly sure what to make of it, they wander over.

The Orb-x climber peaking around a bubble wall.

The Orb-x climber peaking around a bubble wall.

The Orb-x is an extremely new-aged contraption and will test a kid’s strength, balance, and imagination. Climbing about it, hanging from, it, and swinging around it, kids will soon know how much fun it is. The Orb-x offers different climbing options, from traversing to scaling. Now, having moved from the rock wall, to the net, and finally onto the Orb-x climber, a visitor as experienced a variety of climbing apparatuses… all thanks to the playground’s versatility.

Technology and Innovation from Xccent Play! makes it a Key Player in the Next Generation of Playscape Providers!

October 13, 2009

Xccent Play! is really taking technology and innovation in playgrounds to a new level. The past few years have shown that Xccent Play! has the innovation strategy to join the next generation of playscape providers at the top of the game. Their designs have all the characteristics desirable by landscape architects, park visitors, and children, in that they are unique, forward-thinking, aesthetically pleasing, and entertaining. One look at the Xccent Play! line and you will agree that this is one line that has really hit the nail on the head in terms of playground design.

Xccent Play! models are truly cutting-edge.

Xccent Play! models are truly cutting-edge.

The first reason Xccent Play! stands out is because of their unique design layouts and feature models. The way the pieces are able to fit together shows that connections do not have to be as straight forward as traditional playground models. These line-ups interact with each other like none other. Original feature models from Xccent Play! include the cutting-edge, first ever clear rock wall, and their latest structures: the ion, the gravitron, and the atom. These features exude awesome fluidity, shape, and color—just take a look.

The way Xccent Play! features interact is superb.

The way Xccent Play! features interact is superb.

When visitors lay eyes on Xccent Play! equipment they are usually awe-struck, interested, and curious to see more. The overall form and curvature in the design of the equipment is just so visually stunning that they actually draw visitors into the site, even if those people might usually just be passer-bys. This ability should be an indirect quality of any playground, so that the surrounding community is encouraged to visit the site for the first time or again and again.

The Ion includes a version of the clear rock wall; both are first-class models.

The Ion includes a version of the clear rock wall; both are first-class models.

Because of the original features, kids find Xccent Play! playgrounds unusual and exciting. They have new playscapes to imagine on and from, from which they may have never seen before. Xccent Play! features have also been shown to promote a high level of interaction between the children using them. Take the clear rock wall for example: there is no other feature in the playground market that provides such a high standard of climbing equipment while letting scaling kids face each other. Through unique, aesthetic, and entertaining designs, Xccent Play! has made a name for itself as being a first-class play provider for the next generation.

The fluidity, shape, and color of the new Xccent Play! models are amazing.

The fluidity, shape, and color of the new Xccent Play! models are amazing.

This Week’s Playground Spotlight Feature: the Matterhorn

October 11, 2009
The Matterhorn... scale, twist, laugh.

The Matterhorn... scale, twist, laugh.

Climb, spin, race, and enjoy an original experience. This week’s playground feature spotlight shines on a unique climber, the Matterhorn from Miracle Recreation Company. This columned contraption comes in a four-way and a three-way model. The Matterhorn is free-standing, so it can be added to any playground site. It doesn’t take up a great deal of surface area, so it will fit nicely into unused design spaces. Plus, three or four kids can give it a whirl at once, so its accessibility level is high and so is the level of interaction it promotes.

As children climb to the top of the Matterhorn, individual circular pieces spin in different directions, depending on where weight is placed on them, offering a challenge to even expert playground climbers. Climbing isn’t the only activity this feature provides. Spinning around on it is another potential venture. Between climbing and spinning, what else could a kid want in a playground feature?

Another positive aspect of the Matterhorn is its appearance. While its name—in adult climbing terms—commands respect, its appearance in this kids version is down right goofy. A comical appearance in kid terms is a great trait. With four top like pieces stacked on top of one another that bubble out and curve in, the visual the Matterhorn instills in visitors is reminiscent of a circus. With its unique appearance, and its ability to give children a scaling and twisting experience, the Matterhorn is this week’s playground spotlight feature.

A Fluid Design if More Attractive and Functional

October 8, 2009

Why is fluidity important in a playground design? Well, it contributes greatly to how attractive the design is visually and even improves the function of the eventual site. The fluidity of a playground design largely depends on the form of the equipment. That is, the overall shape, color, and configuration of the features combine to create a site’s flow. With positive flow comes natural aesthetic appeal and a general sense of uniformity. However, if a site’s features clash and fluidity is not achieved, often a design can appear awkward and in disarray.

Copyright HAGS Aneby AB

Copyright HAGS Aneby AB

There are really two different ways a site can be positively effected by the correct implementation of fluidity. One way is based in functionality. A playground is the sum of many different pieces of equipment—features. The arrangement of these features is important because they create the accessibility of a site, the conditions for how well children can move through the area without congestion, and can also decrease the inherent danger associated with any playground.

Copyright HAGS Aneby AB

Copyright HAGS Aneby AB

For instance: facing slides and swings, in close proximity, in different directions will decrease the chance of possible collisions, allowing kids to move about easier and with less worry; placing a rock climber so that its peak connects with a slide deck will move kids through these popular features faster; and offering many ways to access and exit mega towers will decrease congestion. Also, in the most basic sense of fluidity, rounded corners are less dangerous than sharp corners and angles.

Copyright HAGS Aneby AB

Copyright HAGS Aneby AB

The other positive aspect of a site’s fluidity is the imagery associated with a streamlined design. A design that has great movement will be much more visually appealing than one lacking a general sense of congruity. People tend to remember attractive visuals and forget those that aren’t. By making sure your design has fluidity, its function and value is increased.