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10 Groundbreaking Playgrounds from Around the World

1. Monstrosity (St. Louis, Missouri)

Monstrosity (St. Louis, Missouri)

MonstroCity is perhaps one of the most ingenious playgrounds out there. Just how ingenious? Think honest-to-goodness fire engine and airplanes (2) reclaimed and reconstructed into a four-story playground. This interactive play space boasts of lofty tunnels, humongous ball pits, and slides longer than the usual, among many other attractions.

2. The Rainbow Net (Sapporo, Japan)

The Rainbow Net (Sapporo, Japan)

Takino Suzuran Hillside National Park houses The Rainbow Net—a play space which took three years to complete. This hand-crocheted interactive installation is the brainchild of fiber artist Toshiko Horiuchi MacAdam, who is said to have devoted 10 hours of crocheting daily to create her artwork/play space. Nylon rope was used for the installation. Imagination and lots of patience also came in handy for sure.

3. Parque Gulliver (Valencia, Spain)

 Parque Gulliver (Valencia, Spain)

The bright minds behind this playground—namely, artist Manolo Martin, architect Rafael Rivera, and designer Josep Vincent “Sento” Llobell Bisbal—were inspired by an iconic image from “Gulliver’s Travels” by Jonathan Swift. The image of interest is that of Gulliver finding himself prostrate on and tied to the ground by the Lilliputians scared out of their wits by his immensity. A bird’s eye view of this image welcomes visitors once they access the playground via “The Guardian Angel Bridge”. Gulliver’s immensity provides the young and the young at heart with multiple levels of maze made even more exciting by slides and ropes and ladders. The whole experience is akin to playing in and on a giant’s torso; now ain’t that fun?

4. Wibit Sports Playgrounds (Bol, Croatia and other locations)

Wibit Sports Playgrounds (Bol, Croatia and other locations)

Wibit Sports, led by renowned architect Robert Cirjak, is a leading manufacturer of water-based playgrounds in Croatia. The company’s main drive: innovation. Thus far, about 60 of the company’s playgrounds have been installed on the waters of Croatia (such as this one in Bol), providing children and the occasional bored adult with state-of-the-art and architecturally-sound slides, swings, and climbing structures on water.

5. Swarovski Crystal Worlds (Wattens, Austria)

Swarovski Crystal Worlds (Wattens, Austria)

Built in 1995 to commemorate the centennial anniversary of the company Swarovski, the Swarovski Crystal Worlds boasts of a number of attractions—one of them is a four-story playground that is at once a 65-foot tower and a giant labyrinthine trampoline. Just like your regular playground, this one is outfitted with slides, swings, and what-not, but, unlike your regular playground, here you get to play within an architectural wonder with luxury-cut glass from Swarovski for accent, and with the Alps, no less, for background.

6. Lake Macquarie Variety Playground (Speers Point, Australia)

 Lake Macquarie Variety Playground (Speers Point, Australia)

Awarded with the distinction “Best Play Space in Australia” in 2011, this 2-hectare playground has everything a kid needs for an engaging play space and more: a humongous 9-meter spiral slide, double flying fox, a maze, a bike circuit, music play elements, a mini-amphitheater, 12-meter climbing towers/nets, spinning equipment, an array of swings, a play boat, water play installations, and even a quiet zone. But one thing makes this playground extra-special: its overall design is PWD-friendly.    

7. Wallholla (Purmerend, Netherlands)

Wallholla (Purmerend, Netherlands)

Created in 2005 by the design firm, Carve, one of the major architectural considerations for Wallholla was: it should accommodate as many as 60 children at the same time and a range of activities while making do of limited urban space. The answer is a vertical playground with brightly-colored platforms that is both easy to the eyes (especially for urban onlookers) and offers enough level of engagement (for children in need of their usual slides, sliding poles, climbing walls, and jumping nets).

8. Water Playground (Tychy, Poland)

Water Playground (Tychy, Poland)

Constructed within an existing park, this play space is all about water play. Not only does it offer a cool view of the Gostynia River (ideally during hot summer days), the 8-shaped space itself offers plenty of opportunities to keep the children of Tychy cool—faucets, fountains, splash pools. At night, the sight of the fountains is made even more beautiful by built-in LED lights.

9. Belleville Park (Paris, France)

Belleville Park (Paris, France)

Belleville Park’s origin story is as interesting as it is. Base, the architectural firm hired to construct this play space, crowdsourced ideas from the community for whom the space was being built, which makes it one one of the few public playgrounds in the world created through crowdsourcing. The result is a playground that is very French, very arty—avant-garde even. Depending on one’s imagination, the whole structure could be anything—a ship, a flying carpet, a medieval fortress, anything goes. The playground offers a view of the Eiffel Tower, to boot.

10. BUGA 05 Playground (Munich, Germany)

BUGA 05 Playground (Munich, Germany)

This is contemporary art masquerading as a playground. It does not have the usual accouterments of a playground, but, it is built to give children and adults their much-deserved play space, hence it’s worthy of the label. Made primarily of tartan and grass, this pretty and wavy landscape is an ode to free movement; it engages visitors to jump, walk, leap, or, just simply move.


Alan Weiman
Alan Weiman