Children sharing ideas about playPlaytime Latest

04/09/2011 – Children sharing ideas about play

Playtime recently organised a consultation process with children in relation to a new Play Space competition organised jointly by the Irish Architecture Foundation, Donegal County Council Public Art Office and the RIAI (Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland).

The consultation with children formed part of the briefing document for architects submitting to the competition and the new Play Space is to be built in a small memorial park on the edge of the fishing town of Killybegs, Co. Donegal.  The competition criteria was quite challenging; each entry was expected to ‘cultivate a greater understanding of place, allow children the fullest of play experiences, and benefit their families and the wider community’. On top of that the children of Killybegs expressed a desire for somewhere exciting and action packed which would be ‘ big, bright, colourful, fun, cool, funky and fabulous’.  The winning entry from Lotus Architects is described as having a subtlety and beauty which will make a distinctive and inspiring addition to the town of Killybegs and is seen as being an innovative combination of play space, architecture and civic space.

The children were very clear about what they would like in their new play space, which might be summed up in one word: adventure.  The extensive list of suggestions involved a considerable amount of physical effort and challenge and there was a strong sense of a wish for exhilaration.  The single play activity which got the most mentions was the swing, references to climbing recurred frequently and a desire for speed and thrill were reflected in the wish for roundabouts and zip wires.

The children said their favourite thing to do at a playground was to ‘meet friends’ and the next favourite thing to do at a playground was to ‘build a secret hideout’. Creating a space they can call their own is identified as important for children of this age group in literature on play. The task of building their den is challenging and creative, there is a great sense of achievement on completion and the ‘secret hideout’ becomes host to an ever changing range of games and play themes.  Building a secret hideout was followed closely by having the chance ‘to mess around’. This expression is frequently employed by children to describe the fun they have with their friends when they are free of adult constraints. 

Playtime also participated on the jury panel and made representation on behalf of the children. It was a fascinating process to be involved in and Playtime looks forward to seeing the new play space in situ in the coming months.