Urban Inspiration: Winter Playgrounds

It is finally the last day of February, which means soon spring will arrive.  But before all of the snow and ice melts up North, here are few inspiring ideas for urban winter play.

PinPin_Studio_Kiruna_Winter_Playground_11_Photo_Christian_Stromqvist-1024x683Winter Playground in Kiruna, Sweden

Designed by PinPin Studio of Sweden, this playground was built in collaboration with students and other organizations in less than a week for the town’s winter festival. It features a large maze, two slides, four large egg-shaped seats, benches and a huge lantern, all constructed from ice and snow. PinPin wants the park visitors to “feel like they are explorers finding a lost city in the middle of a snow and ice jungle,” highlighting their belief that “imaginary play is just as important as the active play.” As CityLab also pointed out the park is adjacent to two large snow hills so that visitors can look down on the park and plan their way through the maze.

Harbourfest SnowfortHarbourKids Snow Fort Building in Toronto

A few weeks ago for Family Day, a public holiday in Ontario, Toronto’s Harbourfront Centre hosted HarbourKIDS, a festival for children and families to experience winter anew. One of the activities I was intrigued by was a collaborative snow fort building project. Unfortunately I was unable attend while we were in Toronto. However, according to the festival programmer over the two-day event children were invite to work with each other and local artists to use snow as a medium for building a fort. Based on festival photos it also seems that they brighten things up by using paints on the snow to create customized snow architecture. Hopefully they were also inspired to go home and explore with snow in their local park or their own yard.


item5.rendition.slideshowHorizontal.architectural-ice-rinks-06Maggie Daley Park Ice Skating Ribbon in Chicago

Opened in December 2014 and designed by Stantec, the new Maggie Daley Park Ice Skating Ribbon in Chicago is the longest refrigerated ice skating trail in the United States. The quarter-mile loop sits on top of a refrigerated slab allowing skating even when the winter temperatures are above freezing. According to Bob O’Neill, president of the Grant Park Conservancy and interviewed by the Chicago Sun Times, the rink feels like “…skating on a creek in the city… It meanders around the park, on the north end, among the pine trees. It’ll feel very woodsy.”  The park also has a new playground adjacent to the rink, set to open this spring.

It seems that children of all ages are enjoying these ideas over the last bit of winter. While some of these designs like the Ice Ribbon require great engineering feats, other designs like building a snow fort are easy enough to replicate on your own. Hopefully both extremes will inspire urban play for adults and children alike on this winter weekend.

All photos are linked to their original sources.

One comment

  1. Inspiring! I love the maze in Sweden…great idea.

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