Why the design of play spaces is a serious business

To look at estate agents’ advertisements for new apartment schemes in Dublin’s docklands, you would think we had no children at all. “Images are all aimed at young professional people. There were no images of children, or reference to play spaces,” according to a recent survey. “Indeed, with mention of words such as ‘peace’ and ‘quiet’, it is not surprising that new residents have different ideas about how a space should be used”, say the authors of new Play Space Guidelines, commissioned by the Dublin Docklands Development Authority (DDDA), which wants to make the area more “family-friendly”. The guidelines are intended to be used by developers, architects, landscape architects, management companies, agents and even the writers of marketing brochures – so that they all become aware of new minimum standards for the provision of semi-private play spaces within new developments in the docklands area. Compiled by landscape architects Mitchell + Associates and equality consultant Maureen Gilbert, the guidelines are specifically about how to make child-friendly places and, more generally, family-friendly places that cater for the needs of people of all ages – not just providing active recreation, but also places to sit, to think and to talk.

The Irish Times