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The Adventure Playground

The Adventure Playground in Berkeley is much more than just a playground. Written up as top 10 playground in National Geographic and voted Best Creative Playspace iDiablo Magazine, it is a playground made by young people for young people....

Photo of Mel Day
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The Adventure Playground at the Berkeley Marina has been a famous and very much creatively evolving landmark for kids and their families in the Bay Area, California for over 30 years. The kids themselves design, build and continually create the playground in which they play (with minimal supervision from staff) using repurposed materials such as old pianos, boats, wood, and tires.

Ride the zip line or hammer, saw, and paint.

Build forts, towers, boats, musical instruments...

As the website says, these low risk, high reward activities create opportunities for young people to learn cooperation, meet physical challenges, gain self confidence and take more ownership of their own creative learning and environment.

The Adventure Playground seems countercultural now compared to the many sterile, smooth, and 'safe' plastic playgrounds that are largely a by product of a series of legal actions / litigations to create "safe" and "risk-free" environments. 

From the website:

"The concept for Adventure Playgrounds originated in Europe after World War II, where a playground designer studied children playing in the "normal" asphalt and cement playgrounds. He found that they preferred playing in dirt and lumber from the post war rubble. He realized that children had the most fun designing and building their own equipment and manipulating their environment. The formula for Adventure Playgrounds includes Earth, fire, water, and lots of creative materials..."


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Photo of Yann Hirlimann

love it!
you should check out that guy in Uganda making playgrounds with upcycled plastic bottles: same idea, same result, great fun! (apart that it's not always the kids that build).

Photo of Mel Day

Incredible! Thanks for sharing. Are you interested in posting a build on this as an idea for this challenge? I'm happy to post if not and we could team up on this...

Photo of Yann Hirlimann

We could definitely, post a build on this. Need to adapt the concept to teenagers though. Maybe the teenagers could build adventure playgrounds adpated to them and adults. they would become the vectors for adults to rediscover the power of play and the creative power of teenagers. For teaming up, it would be with great pleasure. We just need to manage the jetlag (I'm based in Dakar, Senegal). Another inspiration is the brightworks school:
My dream school!

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