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

    “Interest in how this park was performing caused the design team to conduct a post-occupancy user survey to gauge perceptions of the design improvements. The team did not conduct a pre-construction user survey, but now understands the importance of capturing baseline conditions, as well as the need to develop replicable survey protocols to administer at regular intervals to measure long-term social performance.”
  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. Benefits Toolkit

    “This direct observation tool is useful in evaluating the impacts of green schoolyards on physical activity in children. It provides protocols and methods for direct observation and data collection along with a user guide and training materials. ”
  6. 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. ”
  7. Case Study Brief

    Chester Arthur Schoolyard

    Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

    “This schoolyard transformation dramatically increased student activity levels during recess and invited more community use after school hours, as evidenced through direct observation using SOPLAY and SOPARC protocols. The previously asphalt space within a dense residential neighborhood in Philadelphia was transformed to consolidate parking, provide more green space, and offer more stimulating topography with a large play berm. ”

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

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