The Case for Play

Curated by Landscape Architecture Foundation

Play is essential for children’s physical, emotional, and cognitive development. Children develop their language and communication skills, concentration, social skills, motor skills, and more through the various types of landscapes that support play, which are as varied as the children (and adults!) that play in them. Highlighting various types of play including nature play, risky play, and inclusive play, these projects and studies help make the case that play landscapes can offer a wide range of benefits while integrating sustainability with the most necessary ingredient - fun! 

  1. Case Study Brief


    Teardrop Park

    New York, New York

    “Children in highly urban environments often lack access to play, particularly nature-based play. This New York City park offers unprecedented nature play experiences to children who live in the surrounding apartment towers with its undulating topography, interactive water fountains, and stones for climbing. ”
  2. Case Study Brief

    Vista Hermosa_After

    Vista Hermosa

    Los Angeles, California

    “Lack of access to places to play is closely tied to historic and systemic inequities. Children living in Los Angeles often do not have adequate access to parks, particularly in underserved neighborhoods. The creation of this park improved park access in the surrounding neighborhood by 13%. Children's activities and programming are provided in both Spanish and English, appropriately serving the needs of the surrounding community. ”
  3. Case Study Brief

    Blue Hole-After

    Blue Hole Regional Park

    Wimberley, Texas

    “Nature play spaces have the added benefit of incorporating recycled and local natural materials. This regional park has six nature-based playground features that were constructed using materials from the site itself including limestone, cedar roots, and recycled telephone poles.”
  4. Fast Fact

    “This study highlights the concept of risky play, demonstrating that spaces that support risk-taking and excitement can maximize many of the benefits that can be garnered through play. Importantly, the benefits of risky play were determined to outweigh potential negative effects.”
  5. Case Study Brief


    Seattle Children's PlayGarden

    Seattle, Washington

    “Although all play spaces should be designed to inclusive, many do not accommodate users with disabilities. Design can go a long way toward establishing spaces that are welcoming to all. This playground was designed to be a place for children of all abilities to play outdoors together, offering opportunities for interaction and growth. ”
  6. Case Study Brief

    Chester Arthur Schoolyard

    Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

    “This Philadelphia schoolyard sought to improve students' physical and mental health while welcoming the rest of the neighborhood into the space and being responsible stewards of the environment. The new schoolyard supported a marked increase in activity levels for children during recess by using the SOPLAY protocol above. ”

Play equipment, Active living, Mental wellness, Play, Social equity

Help build the LPS: Find out how to submit a case study and other ways to contribute.