Planning Playgrounds to Facilitate Children’s Pretend Play: A Case Study of New Suburbs in Perth Western Australia
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© 2015 Taylor & Francis.Playgrounds are important features of residential areas. Their design influences child play behaviour, particularly ‘pretend play’. With a growing number of young families moving into new suburbs, investigation into the extent to which pretend play is considered in playground design is an important planning issue. This is the focus of this research. Three playgrounds in Perth, Western Australia, were chosen as case studies, and intercept surveys of parents supervising children at these playgrounds and observation of the children behaviour were carried out. Park managers, landscape architects and community facilities managers from outer metropolitan councils were also interviewed. A key finding was that multi-purpose play equipment, particularly sand and themed playgrounds, best fostered pretend play. Further, while local government officers were supportive of pretend play, several factors limit the inclusion of pretend play features into playground designs, primarily risk management. Officers acknowledged that high-risk play was conducive to pretend play, but the need to reduce risk was the main consideration for playground design. The overall conclusion was that pretend play is neglected in playground designs, therefore greater education is needed of the value of pretend play in playground design needed, including the role of risk.
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