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When There's Nothing but Nature: The Danish Experience with Natural Playscapes

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In this article I provide an overview of my natural playground and sensory garden design practices and theories. I discuss how I was inspired by the landscape architect, Carl Theodor Sørensen, and the key role his work and writings played in Denmark and beyond in the development of natural playscapes and in the setting up in 1961 of the International Play Association. I reveal how my first project, while still a student, to design a sensory garden for a special school was to influence my future career and thinking. My time working for the City of Copenhagen began with the design of the first public sensory garden in Denmark, which I describe here. I then highlight another Danish concept: the manned playground and its manifestation in the Nature Playground in Valbyparken for whose design I was responsible, and which I present here. I go on to discuss the dangers of standardized playground equipment designed by adults with no input from children, who prefer to make their own play and benefit from so doing. I describe my design for Murergaarden Daycare Centre and Afterschool Club playground which has no fixed play equipment. I then emphasize further the benefits of 'green' playground design and present the example of the Skovstjernen Daycare Centre, where 'there's nothing but nature and loose parts'. In short, my message is that Nature is the best place for children to play and develop their creativity.


Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: June 1, 2021

More about this publication?
  • Built Environment is published quarterly in March, June, September and December. With an emphasis on crossing disciplinary boundaries and providing global perspective, each issue focuses on a single subject of contemporary interest to practitioners, academics and students working in a wide range of disciplines. Issues are guest-edited by established international experts who not only commission contributions, but also oversee the peer-reviewing process in collaboration with the Editors.

    Subject areas include: architecture; conservation; economic development; environmental planning; health; housing; regeneration; social issues; spatial planning; sustainability; urban design; and transport. All issues include reviews of recent publications.

    The journal is abstracted in Geo Abstracts, Sage Urban Studies Abstracts, and Journal of Planning Literature, and is indexed in the Avery Index to Architectural Publications.

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