Big Win at Play Space Design Awards!

By Michael Schade

We won!

Our design for a new playground, developed in collaboration with Viridian Landscape Studio, Meliora Design and the Parent Infant Center, won a $10,000 prize as part of the Community Design Collaborative’s Play Space competition. As one of nine finalists, our team – Tavis Dockweiler of Viridian, Tamara Clark and I presented our competition entry, Chutes & Ladders, to an appreciative audience of notable Philadelphians, community members, and an Expert Jury on March 16th at the Academy of Natural Sciences.

The Play Space competition was part of an initiative by the Community Design Collaborative and the Delaware Valley Association for the Education of Young Children (DVAEYC) to explore opportunities for innovative urban play spaces and ways for improving the quality of child care and early childhood education.

The Pecha Kucha presentation format (20 slides, 20 seconds each) was a perfect opportunity to act like kids – as we took the stage we became 6-year old friends discovering the new playground for the first time. Our design for a playground was inspired by the classic children’s board game Chutes & Ladders. The playground design brings the board game to life in three dimensions with the construction of two large scale “ladders” that act as shading devices, and with a lushly planted “chute” that represents the long buried Mill Creek. It connects the front and rear of the site while dividing the play space into public and private zones. A trike track parallels the chute and includes a closed circuit for younger children. The board game is realized on a smaller scale with landing spaces represented by eight outdoor playrooms – each with a different ground surface and unique play theme. Smaller chutes and ladders throughout the site reinforce the theme. Rain water is managed in multiple ways and is incorporated into active play in The Laboratory and The Studio. Shade trees define outdoor classrooms and rich plantings support rain gardens. You can view images of the three winners here.

Many hours of volunteer effort went into the competition entry by the following individuals: Michelle Adams, Zachary Cebenka, Tamara Clark, Tavis Dockweiler, Suzanna Fabry, Chelsea Fitzpatrick, Mike Funk, Jill McCoach, Sara Patrick, and Mike Schade.