Park Life - Is Trash the Future of Play?

We’re all feeling the heat. And sales of sunscreen have rocketed. Must be time for some fun in the sun with friends and family. Parks with playgrounds are great destinations for lazy picnics while the kids explore. But why do all our playgrounds look the same? Gone are the metal climbing frames, wooden tree forts, shiny slides and steely seesaws. Instead, we’ve got health and safety obsessed, homogenised plastic play areas that most kids find boring.

Don’t despair. There are some amazing secret gems out there. Unique playgrounds with character and purpose and just enough structure to spark kids’ imaginations.

Welcome to the free play movement! Where children are encouraged to think creatively because they need to improvise and where they are allowed to learn their limits by taking managed risks.

Most of these awesome spaces fuse conservation with learning and a bit of clever repurposing of recycled materials. To help inspire you to seek out your local creative playground, we’ve found a few fantastic examples from around the world.

Grow Wild –  London 

Children learn through play, that’s one of the guiding philosophies of Grow Wild and just one of the reasons we think they're fantastic. Nestled in London's Waltham Forest, this state-of-the-art adventure playground gives children the opportunity to learn about the natural environment, play outdoors, take managed risks and have lots of fun while they’re at it. Even better, the playground is built from recycled materials and uses Sugru to repair, adapt and repurpose things. Watch our video to find out more.

Play:groundNYC - New York City 

Playground is an amazing space just for kids. It even has no adults allowed areas. This gives children the space they need to do what they're meant to do and that's play!

Water Bottle Playground – Uganda

This fantastic project gives plastic bottles a whole new lease of life by transforming them into an amazing playground for children in Uganda. The park was created by former fine artist Ruganzu Bruno Tusingwire and provides a protected place to play. Tusingwire says: “We can use what is around us to create treasure, employment opportunities, and make the environment better." And we couldn’t agree more!

The Land - Wales 

The land is an adventure playground that is putting the Wales town of Plas Madoc on the map. Playworkers from across the globe have travelled here for inspiration. The playground manager, Claire Griffiths, fields inquiries every day from people eager to start similar schemes. The playground features pallets, saws, nails and a fire pit for children to make things, break things and explore their imaginations. 

Koiari Park Adventist Primary School – Papua New Guinea

The team at Playground Ideas partnered with a local school in Papua New Guinea to give the children an amazing place to learn and play. The playground is mainly built from discarded tyres, which are used to  construct obstacle courses, climbing walls and massive swings.

Slide-A-Saurus Rex – Guatemala 

Part slide. Part dinosaur. Totally awesome! This playground was designed by local children and then built by the Global Play Alliance using recycled materials. Watch this incredible video to see how the children brought their dreams to life. They are so cute!

Do you have an awesome upcycled playground you think we should know about? Share it with us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.