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Restraints On Design: Adventure Playgrounds And Landscape Architecture
This thesis examines minimally designed adventure playgrounds, what landscape architects, landscape designers and educators think about this type of play space and if it could become a larger part of the American play inventory. It also explores the roles landscape architects have in designing these play areas while still allowing the intended users, the children, to take a lead design role and attain the intended benefits of the space. To do this, this study explores the origins of adventure playgrounds, their ability to develop in the United States, and how landscape architects are involved in this process. Landscape architects, designers and educators are interviewed to collect data about prior knowledge of adventure playgrounds, the benefits and the limitations about this type of play and values lost from traditional prefabricated playgrounds. This data is analyzed to expose common themes that emerge from the interview process about the adventure playground and how restraint to design impacts this type of playground for children. By creating venues for children to use construction supplies, discarded items and other materials, children become in charge of building their own environments and special places. In this way it is important for playground designers to avoid 'over designing' their outdoor area, as the greatest possible proportion should be available for children to freely use and modify their environment (Play England 2009). This thesis engages in a literature review, focusing on the history of adventure playgrounds and their evolution in the United States as well as play theory and the different types of play. A key focus is the value of minimally designed playground space for children and the types of experiences that less designed spaces offer. Interviews of landscape architects involved with park design were conducted, along with other landscape architects educators and professionals involved with children and/or park design. The interviews included discussions of how restraint on design impacts landscape architecture and adventure playgrounds. These interviews were then analyzed using the constant compare method to develop common themes and set of ideas about the role of the landscape architect and adventure playgrounds. The above method of literature review is studied for the origin of the adventure playground along with the study of different European and American examples of adventure playgrounds from the past and ones of today. Data from the interviews are collected to reveal common themes that emerge through the interview process. These themes are the basis for this thesis and reveal the benefits and limitations of this type of play.