Archive for February, 2010

A Featured Design Aspect: A Healthy Connection Through an Overhead Challenge

February 25, 2010

An obstacle like this is a great way to connect playground features or decks.

Overhead challenges not only represent fun on the playground, they also represent the healthy gains that can be made on playgrounds. The benefits of play are very well documented and when a playground feature directly relates to one of them, we just have to tell you about it. One of the key benefits of play is physical fitness. Now, for children to just be outside and playing is great and will undoubtedly improve their health, but the overhead challenge takes health improvement to the next level. Using this feature is like working out while playing. There is perhaps no other feature that promotes upper body strength like the overhead challenge—just take a look at it.

To successfully navigate this feature it takes endurance, strength, coordination, and focus. Every one of these traits can be improved through play in general, but they must be uniquely harnessed to use the overhead challenge. Plus, children can gain these traits by using the overhead challenge day after day. Maybe on day one they get a quarter of the way across. By the end of week two they are just over half way. In a couple of months they will be swinging back and forth like a monkey.

Another great characteristic of the overhead challenge is that it connects other features. So now, when children are trying to get from one fun feature to the next, they can get a workout in the process. The overhead challenge really is a connecter on the playground, but it also connects the dots between physical fitness and play. The benefits of play cannot be ignored. Visit Miracle Playsystems for more details on how you can implement a cutting edge overhead challenge into your next playground design.

The overhead challenge is a fun workout.

Cutting Edge Designs that are Well Thought Out

February 23, 2010

Forward thinking designs are always in style.

To hold your own in today’s competitive market, you have to constantly update your designs. This means not only thinking outside of the box, but also enhancing what’s still inside the box. However, when the envelope is pushed, often times the fundamentals can be forgotten and those basic elements that make a design functional can be left behind. For this reason, it is important to have designs that are forward thinking as well as useful, reliable, and entertaining.

Work technology into your design for big results.

For a design to be useful it needs to serve its purpose. For example, if a slide is visually stunning because it has many, many curves, but a rider can’t get enough speed to make it to the bottom, then the slide is not working. Or, if a huge, new swing set is too close to other equipment to be safe, then it is not serving its purpose of needing to be both fun and safe. Aesthetically pleasing playground design possibilities are endless; but it takes a little more thinking to make those designs functional as well. Go to Miracle Playsystems for more information.

Make sure every feature looks like fun.

When whimsicality becomes too much, durability is often the first to lose out. Sure, super airy, fantasy designs are cool looking, but when it comes to cost effectiveness, they just don’t get the job done. Having too many working parts or small pieces can often lead to high maintenance costs.

Lastly, a design should be attractive, but before that, it should be entertaining. No matter how fun a design looks, whether or not it is actually fun will be the deal maker or breaker. The last thing a park needs is a bunch of high tech looking playground features that are never used. So, when you design your next playground, go with designs that are proven to be fun, durable, and cost effective… as well as visually stunning. Visit Miracle Playsystems for more details.

Consistency in a Single Design is Visually Striking

February 17, 2010

Fluidity, color, and shape can all drive consistency.

Certain images are extremely memorable. For instance, most don’t forget a close up of a fire engine… it is a great big, red truck that is unique in form; most remember the biggest water slide they’ve ever been on… it is tall, narrow, and almost too fast; and almost everyone can tell you where and when they saw their favorite sports car and what color it was. These images are memorable because they are exciting, but also because they are consistent. The fire truck was all red and hard to miss. The water slide was all business—built for speed. The sports car’s design was fluid, fast, and aerodynamic. Within a single design, consistency is visually striking because it radiates from it functionality.

Consistency means maintaining certain design flows, such as keeping on linking features sets such as on this site.

If a playground is supposed to be a playful oasis in the middle of a sweltering summer hang out spot, then blue and green shade structures, slides, swings, and picnic tables tell visitors that this is the spot to cool off and have fun… these images give off that feeling. If your playground is supposed to be a warm feeling destination near a water way on a nice day, then reds, yellows and oranges painted all over climbers will tell your visitors that you can relax and play while staying a few degrees above the usually chilly climate. A design really can make a person feel a certain way. Contact Miracle Playsystems for more details.

It looks good when everything is in order.

Furthermore, to make a design memorable, there are many tricks to use: make the playground mostly one color, or as many colors as possible. That way it can be described easily as the “green playground,” or the “one with all the crazy colors.” Also: implement one feature that is without a doubt the playground’s centerpiece so that visitors will associate your site with that piece. One playground I can think of is simply referred to as the “boat park” because of an old tugboat that has been implemented into the site. The other features here have a maritime theme so the design is consistent. Here we can see that consistency is memorable, and visually stunning. Visit Miracle Playsystems for more information.

A Playground Highlight: The Look Out Deck

February 15, 2010

Fun creations like this lookout deck are entertainin and memorable.

When children are at play, their imaginations run wild. It is a playground designers job to allow them to create and invent as much as possible when at the site. Not only should we give children slides and swings to play on, we should also give them imagination platforms such as control panels complete with steering wheels and look out decks complete with eye glasses and binoculars to create games with. Now a kid can be a pirate, a naval commander, a forest ranger, or a wilderness scout… all at the same place! One day that child may be running from monsters and the next that same kid might be chasing bandits across the galaxy… it is the job of the playground designer to allow this creativity to go on by implementing imagination platforms.

The look out deck certainly is an imagination platform. Sure, it can be used to see a pier at a closer distance, but more realistically it is going to be a toy that a kid uses in part of a pretending game where they are playing some imaginative role… and who knows what they will dream up. By designing playgrounds so that children can play and imagine, a designer is doing twice the job from a child’s point of view (and isn’t that who uses these playgrounds after all?).

The look out deck can come with binoculars or a telescope/spotting scope. It is usually the highest spot of the playground and can be connected with a climber, a slide, or a bridge. This great place gives a playground uniqueness and can play into the individual theme and identity of the site. This appealing feature is a playground highlight because its not often thought of, but it can produce big results. For more imaginative ideas, contact us by visiting Miracle Playsystems.

A Playground Should Play Into Its Surroundings

February 10, 2010

A site’s essence, as landscape architects know, is an extremely important factor to consider when planning a design.

A site’s essence is utilized by landscape architects to determine many factors of design such as its color and form as well as functionality. For instance, in relation to playgrounds, if a site is scorched by hot weather by a large portion of the year, shade structures can play an important role in keeping children cool and safe. Furthermore, if trees surround this same area, it makes sense to make the shade structure green so that it blends in with the surroundings. Here the site’s essence, that it is hot and surrounded by trees, plays a key role in the implemented equipment and that equipment’s attributes.

Color, form, and features can all be influenced by a site’s surroundings.

In terms of form, the surroundings can again play a big role in what equipment will be aesthetic as well as useful at a particular site. If there are tons of trees everywhere, the height of the equipment may be kept to a minimum so that it doesn’t hit the trees at any point in the future. If it does, the trees would have to be trimmed for safety reasons and this would cost the client more money in the long run. Also, the form could be more boxy if rocky cliffs were in the background or fluid if mostly deciduous trees are around.

Believe it or not, this is an artificial rock formation and can be added in to improve a site’s essence by giving off a nature like feel.

Overall, a site’s essence and its surroundings can determine many things about a site. Basically, a playground design and theme should match the things surrounding it so that is visually stunning. However, if one were to juxtapose a desert area with a forested playground design, it might not look so bad because it’s a fresh sight. All and all, just something to keep in mind… as always, remember to have fun. Visit Miracle Playsystems for more details and design information.

Shade Structures are Useful, Edgy, Cool, and Healthy

February 5, 2010

Shade structures aren't just protective, they are cool.

Shade structures are proven to be extremely effective at protecting children against harmful sun damage. They promote health and safety on the playground by decreasing the risks of overheating, heat stroke, and dehydration… however water and sunscreen are needed too. The shade structure is very useful, but it is also cool. It looks awesome. It is cutting edge in design and comes in all sorts of design savvy shapes and colors. In some areas, the shade structure is expected, especially after it is seen for the first time.

This feature is not only useful, it is popular.

The shade structure is edgy. This is a key invention in terms of modern playgrounds. If your area gets to above 90 degrees in the summer then you really need a shade structure over your playgrounds. New protections such as this are crucial for keeping children safe when at play under the hot sun. Plus, the actual shape of the equipment in relation to its use makes the product so hip. This is one cool playground fixture.

Shade structures are expected in a lot of areas.

The shad structure is a unique creation that has become cool—not only because it is so useful, but because of its looks and feel. It just seems like a good idea… and it is. And it adds an extra dimension to a playground. Playgrounds have always been open, but this provides a roof and a great new look. Its hard to describe why the shade structure is so cool… but I’m pretty sure it is a combination between its usefulness, its freshness, its edginess, and its protective qualities, and of course its stunning aesthetic visual appeal. Contact Miracle Playsystems for more details on this amazing feature.

A Playground Spotlight Feature: The Tall Slide

February 2, 2010

This feature is heavily used by the surrounding community; it is easy to see why... it is tall, unique, and offers one fast ride.

What does it take to be seen from great distances? Height. How do you produce great speeds without an engine? Height. When will your site get noticed? When it finally has the height. Whether you’re designing a new playground or trying to improve an older one, there is no better, more memorable attraction than a tall slide.

Children remember the thrill of speed and the wonder of looking down from towering heights. With a custom build tall slide or one that has already been designed, your park will have the centerpiece feature that is remembered more than any other… and visitors will come back again and again. Now that’s what a park client would love.

Creating a tall slide is an art. For one thing, safety is the number one priority. It takes truly masterful engineering to ensure safety over a long period of time. Which leads to the next factor: the need for the best materials to guarantee durability—there is nothing worse than having to constantly shut your main attraction down because of needed maintenance. Lastly, it takes an awesome design to inspire a desire to climb to the top and take a ride down—plus its not easy for a tall slide to look secure and visually striking.

A tall slide will certainly get you noticed when designed and built the right way. Although admittedly its not for every park, because of the cost… however, when your site calls for a mammoth slide, take the time to find the right design because hitting the reset button half way through construction just isn’t an option. Upon completion—after using the best available—when it looks great, it will be an image for the portfolio. Contact Miracle Playsystems for information on designing and building your own tall slide.