Building a Better Playground

Cecilie Rohwedder profiles playground designer Peter Heuken, who's at the vanguard of a trend towards bespoke play spaces that challenge children as much as they entertain them.
March 18, 2013, 7am PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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"Mr. Heuken is the head designer at Richter Spielgeräte, a German company that has built playgrounds around the world. A trained carpenter and wood engineer, he is currently creating playgrounds in Sarasota, Fla., and on Governor's Island in New York City. One of his best-known projects is the Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Playground in London's Kensington Gardens, which features a large wooden pirate ship."

"Mr. Heuken, a 48-year-old father of three, builds playgrounds that are made mostly of wood, giving them a look very different from the bright, plastic climbing frames found at many U.S. parks and schools," explains Rohwedder. "They are part of a trend away from cookie-cutter play equipment and toward imaginative, challenging structures, often designed for specific spaces. Mr. Heuken's special interest is to make his playgrounds as safe as necessary, but also exciting and demanding for children."

"Nobody uses a car because it has brakes," he says. "Nobody goes to a playground because it is safe."

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Published on Friday, March 15, 2013 in The Wall Street Journal
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