June 17, 2010
The Berkeley Adventure Playground was established in 1979 and is one of three Adventure Playgrounds still in existence in the US (see this link for more history on Adventure Playgrounds). The concept of Adventure Playgrounds was introduced by a Danish Landscape Architect in 1931 after realizing children preferred to play everywhere besides the playgrounds he designed. Seeing how children enjoyed interacting with a movable and rich environment, he envisioned a “junk playground in which children could create and shape, dream and imagine a reality”. The first Adventure Playground opened in Denmark in 1943, and others followed suit in London shortly thereafter. Currently, there are over 1,000 Adventure playgrounds in Europe, mostly in Denmark, Switzerland, France, Germany, The Netherlands, and England.
If liability fears and a litigious society have pushed us away from such ‘organized’ opportunities, what do we learn from the successes that we can apply elsewhere? Perhaps fundamentally, one of the lessons is how compelling it is for us to be able to create and rearrange our environments… to make our own mark.
Audio Excerpt – NPR – ‘Adventure Playgrounds’ a Dying Breed in the U.S., March 9, 2006 – http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5254026
Berkeley Adventure Playground – http://www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/contentdisplay.aspx?id=8656
Adventure Playgroud enthusiast Lia Sutton, has produced a booklet on Adventure Playgrounds and it can be viewed here-http://adventureplaygrounds.hampshire.edu/order.html