John Hicks & Associates


Play Area Design

The four essential qualities needed when designing, equipping or modifying a play area are:


.Some knowledge of the main functions of play as a developmental process.


An appreciation of how children’s needs can be addressed in the layout of equipment and ancillary items


Awareness of the ‘quality’ of play in the playground environment.


Knowledge of the range of abilities of children of different ages and stages of growth, coupled with an awareness of children with disabilities.

Some things to think about - Some things to do...

  Efforts should be made to retain and utilise existing site features
  Ideally every part of the play space and facilities should be accessible to all in ways appropriate to their ages and abilities.
  Some of the equipment should present surmountable challenges for all of the children using the site.
  The layout of the area should not encourage group ‘ownership’ leading to exclusive or territorial as opposed to integrated play
  Quiet areas should be separated from active ones while remaining fully open to view and ready supervision.
  Age and ability separation should be backed up by thematic and role division rather than being fenced or in other ways made conspicuously and physically separate.
  Seats tables and waste bins should be provided on all locations.
  Paved or tarmaced areas should be provided as ‘all weather’ play space catering particularly for ball games, bicycles and wheeled toys.
  Separate provision should be made for skateboards and similar items
  Raised water and sand play facilities are attractive and interesting for children with a wide range of abilities and should therefore be given some consideration.

A comprehensive guide to playground design is incorporated in John Hicks 2000 Children’s Playgrounds – A Guide to the Management and Design of Children’s Play space. Warwick: Warwickshire Rural Community Council

John Hicks & Associates.
A wholly owned subsidiary of JOHN HICKS LTD.
Registered in England & Wales. Company Registration No. 4160958
41a Upland Road, Selly Park, Birmingham. B29 7JS. UK.
Tel: 0121 472 1276. Fax: 0121 471 4839. Mobile: 07762 232646

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John Hicks Associates: fieldwork, inspections, contracting. Playground inspection services, including outdoor playgrounds and indoor play areas. Parish and district council play facilities, and play areas in pubs, pick-your-own fruit farms, caravan and camping sites, village halls, schools, churchyards and commercial crèches. Play area design.