Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Designing for Health: Creativity and Tension

In the workshop on Designing Natural Play Spaces for Healthy Children and Planet, a few Belvedere folks and I redesigned the village green. It is the oval green-filled shape in the middle of the Belvedere base plan seen below.

We saw several presentations about play spaces and what they mean. Robin Moore gave a complete overview with lists of what is possible. You can see a presentation about designing for health planet, healthy children at NLI's website, a powerpoint Robin gave at the 2007 Design Institute.

Then we had to identify the users for our parks. For Belvedere, they are not just families, but all kinds of people: families with small children, what Robin called "middle age children" from 6 years old to 9 or 10. Then Tweens and Teens. We also have an active adult population, single folks, dog walkers, and then older people who are empty nesters, retired people. So you can see, we have a lot of different populations. The list is on the purple stickies.

Then we identified the kinds of activities we wanted in the parks: sitting, picnicking, walking, jogging, playing, exploring, etc. Those were the yellow stickies in this picture.

Then, we had to identify settings for these activities: sitting settings, hide-n-seek settings, watching and picnicking settings, play settings, etc. That list is in the pink. From there, we launched into a design that started with a water setting (fountain) in blue on the map below, then a fire ring for gatherings. We thought this design might be more formal to fit with the neighborhood construction, then a ball playing field. After that, a gazebo in the middle of the village green (in orange), then an area of play and chase, with bushes, hillocks, trees, and a sand/dirt pit. One of our group, a maverick named William who is a new naturopath to our area (Quadranthealth.com) added a great rope climbing structure here. On the far end of the Village Green, we are trying to keep the rocks and pipe in the hill, leveling out the rest of the current spiral a bit (not all) and putting a smallish play structure there. There are paths that connect each section. It was harder than I thought it would be. You can see about the process in this video made by NLI and posted on their website: Design Practice

Frank Stoner says this design is about $500,000.

Buzz kill.

Robin Moore cautioned not to get too caught up in how much things cost. But that really kills creativity and ideas.

I hope that our community can continue to work on the design of our parks together now that some of us know the process. Robin says it is critical that the landscape architect work with the residents and not just think they know what is best. Involve the residents. Ask the residents. We have such a great opportunity to design these parks together.

More later.