This New Book Will Change the Way You Think about Playgrounds

Design Museum is on a mission to create better places for play across the country.

By Bryanna Briley June 29, 2017

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Image: Sam Aquillano

Design Museum Portland has just one day to reach a $30,000 goal for its latest project: a book about outdoor play, featuring 40 case studies of extraordinary playscapes around the world. Included in Design & Play is a 200-year timeline of the history of playscapes, research on the science of play, and articles from play experts, and features North Portland’s Harper’s Playground alongside its international counterparts. (Update, June 30: the Kickstarter goal has been met.)

And if you caught Design Museum’s Extraordinary Playscapes exhibit in Portland last fall, you’ll have some idea of what the book has to offer. The exhibit is now housed in the San Francisco Public Library, where visitors can even build their own playscape with giant play cubes and rope bridges. 

For Design Museum's executive director Sam Aquillano, play has always been essential: “I had an amazing childhood, my house was right next to the woods, and I played all day outside with my brother.” He says the imaginative and creative freedom he had is exactly why this playscape initiative is so important.

“Kids aren’t as free as they once were,” says Aquillano. “If parents aren’t going to open doors, we have to create playscapes. It’s important for kids to play: play is a chance to take risks in a safe environment, to try things, be creative, create scenarios, and work collaboratively with others.” As Aquillano points out, these are skills that benefit entrepreneurial adults just as much as their smaller counterparts.

With this book, Aquillano hopes to help people renovate their play spaces and spread the message that play be prioritized for kids and adults. “We’ve had people look to us for resources, and [we realized] we need to package this up in a way that people can put it on the desk of their mayor and their superintendent," he says.

“[Play] is so critical to our humanity and economy," Aquillano adds. "The book will help make the case about how important play really is. When kids don’t have access to play, what will that mean for their generation?

The Kickstarter countdown is on...

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