Macombs Park + Playground
Macombs Park + Playground transforms an uninspired, deteriorating urban playground into an exploratory landscape that stimulates the senses with a variety of experiences extracted from nature. Significant area for green space, healthy large canopy trees and significant grade change with an accessible ramp offered the opportunity to design more than just a playground, but a park + playground. Some of the issues to be tackled in the design were eroding slopes with deteriorating retaining walls, outdated equipment in unsafe configurations, and thickets of prickly, unfriendly shrubs. SCAPE offered two designs: Bronxology and Play Bubbles.
Bronxology imports playful elements of natural ecology into a highly urban site in the Bronx. A mountainside landscape with an alpine slide creates a fast way down past large boulders and clusters of birch trees. Down on the forest floor playground, one can scamper on reclaimed wood play structures. Under foot, a pixel pattern of recycled rubber safety tiles in earthtone colors represents a ground of leaf litter. Kids can cool off in the water spray features in the frog pond, or make castles on its sandy shore. A woodland trail leads children under the canopy of magnificent mature linden trees (existing onsite). Like a walk in the forest, one encounters many different textures and sights for exploration and play: stacked logs for stepping and sitting on, climbing trunks, balancing branches, and a riverbed with a crossing bridge.
Play Bubbles captures experiences of play in distinct, themed environments, or bubbles. While each play bubble is different from its neighbor, the configuration of bubbles offers a variety of adjacencies and surroundings. In the ‘islands’ bubble, play structures are set on a flexible rubber play surface which is cut-out to form planted islands, and manipulated into roly-poly mounds. From here, one can climb up the step stones embedded in the grassy slope and slide down through the tall grasses or go for a soak in the spray jets of the water bubble. Whether scaling the climbing rocks, digging and sifting in the sand bubble, or doing a balancing course in the log bubble, play bubbles offer many experiences to captivate the imagination.