We are highlighting various church design concepts for children’s spaces. In our last post, we discussed considerations and ideas for indoor play areas. Let’s go outside and look at some ideas and considerations for outdoor play spaces, including security features and equipment materials.
When it comes to keeping kids safe, security should receive top consideration. If you include an outdoor play area in your church design, start with fencing options. This is important for two reasons: (1) to contain the kids within the play area; and (2) to prohibit access from the outside. An enclosed courtyard is a great way to do both, but it’s not always an option, of course.
So, think about other site placement choices carefully. It’s not a good plan to have kids running across parking lots to get to the playground. Ideally, you should build the play area in a spot that is easily accessible from the church building and away from vehicular traffic.
As with indoor play spaces, you can choose between portable and fixed equipment. If space is limited, you may find portable equipment to be a beneficial option, since it allows for multi-purposing of the area. However, it’s also age dependent. It may work safely for smaller, younger kids, but not so well for older ones who want to climb all over the equipment.
And what about the materials that make up the equipment? Wood, once popular, is now out of favor because it deteriorates quickly. It splinters and can break, causing safety concerns. Metal equipment is more durable and will last longer, but it still needs maintenance.
There’s also the matter of the fall surface. You have varied materials to choose from, such as wood chips, rubber chips, rubber tiles, or poured rubber systems. All of those have different benefits and varying prices, which certainly factor into the choice.
Example Outdoor Play Space
This play space is a great visual of the ideas and considerations that we’ve discussed. You see a large playground with a fence all the way around for security. Notice the location: it’s easily accessible from the doors of the church building, so children don’t have to cross a great distance to get to the play area.
The equipment is fixed and made of durable metal and plastic, so it’s great for all ages of kids. You can see the green fall surface area around the equipment with a separate sections of wood chips. It’s a big open space for kids to run around and play, and there’s a bench by the swings where adults can supervise.
Looking for more great church building and design ideas? Our 2023 i3 webinar series is a terrific way to learn about the latest trends and topics. Join us for our free presentations on funding, safety features, interior design, how to create a clear vision for your church, and more.