Redesigning playscapes with children and youth

The things
we learn from

We see learning as a continuous process that we experience together. A self-revealing process that we co-create among us, while being committed to social change. 

Paved by a continual discovery, through reflection, sharing, and dialogical approach, our learning process organically evolves among us. 

Here we will share some of the things we have so far learned but also what inspires us, with the idea that this will trigger your mind to join the discussion and contribute to our collective learning process and putting the light onto shared practices among us globally:

Our library

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Click to look through the handbook 

A manual on play, playscapes co-creation, Western Balkans and other stories

We made an effort to collect our experiences and present it in a format of a handbook.

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Take a look at our study on playscape typology in the Western Balkans.

What inspires us

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Secret ingredients in creating playscapes

Unfavorable weather conditions

Imagine the intention of creating a hill from soil, or planting new greenery, but experiencing continuous rainfall for over a month, resulting in your site turning into a muddy mess. To mitigate this risk, carefully select the appropriate season for outdoor work and allocate sufficient time for implementation. This way, you can afford to wait for favorable weather conditions before starting with the activity.

Changes to the school management

Changes in school management can disrupt ongoing initiatives, as new administrators often bring their own vision and priorities. This can potentially alter the direction and impact of the previously supported initiatives. The new management may reassess projects, adjust resources, or introduce new strategies. To navigate these situations, open communication is key. Be prepared to initiate communication once again, foster collaborative relationships with the new management, and remain flexible in adjusting project plans and approaches to accommodate any shifts in the school's focus. Creating a cooperative agreement and an information sharing system at the beginning of a project establishes a solid foundation for all new stakeholders to rely on, enabling them to understand the collaborative strategy that has been developed and the progress that has already been made.

Contractors and deadlines

Originally, the plan was for the carpenter to finish constructing the play elements by late spring, allowing children to use them before the summer break. An evaluation would then follow. However, due to a significant delay, the installation of the elements was postponed until late June, after the school term had ended which is not good for the project process: . Iit is crucial for children to be present when introducing the equipment they have co-designed to foster a sense of ownership. Without their presence, they may not fully embrace the equipment as their own.

Safety certificates

When constructing new non-standard play equipment for public spaces, safety should be the top priority. It is crucial to conduct safety inspections and assessments, including a-series tests, to ensure that the equipment meets the required safety standards. Obtaining certification further validates compliance with safety requirements. Allocating funds in advance to cover the costs of safety testing and certification demonstrates a commitment to providing a secure play environment. Not all installations and interventions suitable for play require certification. Therefore, before finalizing your design, familiarize yourself with the regulations in your city and make an informed design proposal.

Joining forces with other initiatives

Our plan was to join forces with other existing initiatives to achieve greater synergies. In our efforts to collaborate with the existing initiatives, we encountered challenges arising from unfamiliarity on the part of school management and the municipal administration. This lack of trust led to their decline in providing support. To ensure successful collaborations, it is crucial to proactively plan and assess the background, reputation, and alignment of the initiatives you wish to associate with. Additionally, communicating joint actions well in advance can help garner support and foster smoother collaborations.

Unexpected guests

Depending on your site and the diversity of users in the space of your intervention, it is important to expect the unexpected. This could include unexpected occurrences such as moles roaming through a freshly planted garden, incidents of vandalism by local residents, individuals picking flowers, or even local groups damaging the protective fence and walking on the growing grass too early. All of these situations may arise in a shared world, but they should not be seen as the end of your work and progress. Instead, they serve as a reminder to consider how to invite more people to be on the same page and collaborate with you.