Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Oak Log Playhouse

The Eden Project in Cornwall is build in a disused clay mine in the UK. It has been transforming it into a rich, global garden where people can learn about nature and get inspiration about the world around them. They have a wide variety of wonderful spaces and services. But, what caught my eye was this log house. Made from a single Oak Log it is the ultimate fairy play house.

You can click here for a fun series of photos showing the transformation of the log to play house. This series was posted by another interesting playground blogger Playgroundology.

The creator of this beautiful Oak Playhouse, Wood Touch Enterprises also creates other wood pieces. I would love to see more of this type of equipment being built by playground manufacturers in the US. I love the free form wood pieces with round forms, bark and a feeling that this tree was once alive.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Play Across the World

I have been looking into the quality of play world wide. It is intrinsically tied back to the quality of life. After seeing a few saddening international orphanage playground photos, I wondered who was doing good work for this population. And in steps the wonderful architecture firm out of Trondheim Norway called TYIN tegnestue. Their work has a playful quality that is as inspiring and beautiful as it is fun. Their past projects are in Thailand, Burma, Haiti and Uganda. Their appropriate materials choices and design skills that link basic needs of security, sanitation and knowledge with play makes them top designers in my mind.

"Socially responsible architect-students from around the world are involved, working hands on; with clear minds and open hearts." TYIN tegnestue website

 If you like their work you may also like the work of Go Play! 

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Finding the Perfect Playground Hand Pump for Sand and Water Play

I have been on a global (web) search for the perfect hand pump for a sand and water feature on a playground.  It will be a water source for a public playground sand and water feature. The pump limits the amount of water being used and gives the kids more exercise!

My Requirements:
- Must be playground proof. Kids can kick it, pump it really fast for a long time, and shove sand in any opening and it must continue working.
- Must operate like a hand pump to a well, but I do not have a well I have a pressurized water line and i do not want to create a tank or well.
- I prefer that it has a reasonable price, can ship within a month and does not come from the other side of the globe.

My Specified Hand Pump:
The Goric farm pump is my usual go-to piece. It is a playground piece, it operates on a pressurized line, but it costs a lot, comes from far away and takes a while to arrive. This is not the best for my current project that has a short timeline and the contractor has not ordered it yet. Either way it is still the best piece I have found. The supplier is willing to work with us to hit our deadline. That is a major plus in my book.

Lesson Learned: Order this piece early and check up on the contractor.

A Simple Pitcher Pump
So, I started to look for a simple pitcher pump. There are a ton out there. But, after talking with a few pump engineers they suggested I gut the pump and run a hose through it. Picture this... my playground, a hose decoratively running through the pump, running ALL THE TIME where anyone can grab it. Recipe for disaster!

Lesson learned: Because my line is pressurized it can not be hooked to a classic well pump used to draw water up. Creating a well has a host of its own problems and I am not going to go there now.
Another Classic Pump:
I am including this Simple Pump mainly because it is pretty cool. They have had one hit with a baseball bat repeatedly and it still keeps pumping! Simple design, strong, and unaffected by sand. Unfortunately a pressurized line would stop the pump form working at all. Watch these informative videos on the pump for more info.

Lesson Learned: Same as before... but these folks have a great product and are responsive.

Another Playground Piece:
Natural Playgrounds supplies this pump and tank system, but is also does not work on a pressurized line. I understand their justification for wanting to use a real pump, but for a public playground it does not make much sense.

 Lesson Learned: I may just need to design a tank system!

"Obviously, pumps need a source of water, but hooking up a hose to a pump is NOT the way to go. Pumps are passive machines, originally designed to pull water from a well, and the whole idea behind them is to make children work for the water they need for play. Water coming from a hose is under pressure, and if you hooked the hose up to a pump, it would force water into the pump chamber, past the piston, and out the spout with no way to turn it off. Besides that, kids would not learn a thing about pumps, drawing water, priming a pump, getting upper body exercise, etc etc. Bad idea - hooking up a hose directly to a pump."  From the natural playgrounds website.

A Water Playground Pump:
I knew I was getting off track when I found this. It is a splash playground 'pump'. Looks like a pump but all the parts are stationary. arggggg

Lesson Learned: Sometimes in the name of safety and ease we can take the fun out of everything.

Basic findings is that all these pumps are actually pumps and need a well to pull from. I could create a small pumping well or tank below the pump. It sounds easy. But the pressurized line would have to have some sort of on and off switch so it did not overflow the tank. Like a float switch that refills the tank when empty. I could custom design this tank and float switch, but I can just see the already overworked parks maintenance staff groaning at me now. A system with a manual and replacement parts is a cleaner and easier way to go. That does not mean I won't go ahead and design one! It is just not my first choice.

So, I am back to asking the Goric supplier to rush deliver the Goric Farm Pump. Do you have a pump that works well in this circumstance? If I find, or design a solution I will be sure to post it.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...