The subject of children’s play provision comes up in our office quite a lot. You may remember a previous post from last year that quoted landscape architect, Helle Nebelong, about the perils of standardisation – here’s an excerpt:

I am convinced that standardised playgrounds are dangerous, just in another way: when the distance between all the rungs in a climbing net or a ladder is exactly the same, the child has no need to concentrate on where he puts his feet.

Delivering anything other than dull, lifeless, off-the-shelf equipment that can be found everywhere you look across our cities is always a challenge. Not because of a lack of imagination on my part you understand, rather because it’s difficult to find a client prepared to experiment with something without a clear health and safety precedent.

Which is why I was delighted to discover this design for some swings when I took the kids to the Telford Town Park a few weeks ago.


It’s simple, cheap, eco-friendly (due to the re-use of tyres), robust and most importantly – bloody exciting.

Car tyres that have been fixed to standard swings are arranged in an octogan on a frame made from telegraph poles. You start swinging. The battle commences. Initially it’s difficult to tell whether it’s been constructed so that it’s impossible for the tyres to collide. The adults around the edges can’t resist adjusting the pace of their pushing to try and find out. The swings opposite each other come tantalisingly close. Tension mounts. The kids adjacent to each other start to size each other up.


A few more near misses and then riots of laughter all round – a glancing blow from the side as two of the swings reach the top simultaneously.



Congratulations to whoever designed it. I wish it had been me. I took a mental note of the construction and sketched it later. We should build more of these.