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Exploring the Relationship between Design Approach and Play Value of Outdoor Play Spaces


  • Helen Woolley
  • Alison Lowe


This paper reports research that explores the relationship between approaches to the 'design' of outdoor play spaces and the play value of these spaces. The paper starts by explaining that there is an assumption that an outdoor space in the Kit, Fence, Carpet (KFC) style provides fewer opportunities for play than spaces designed in a more natural way. To test this hypothesis an evaluation tool is developed that draws upon a range of academic literature. The tool includes three dimensions of Play Value, Physical Characteristics of the site and the Environmental Characteristics of the site. This tool was tested on 10 sites in the East Midlands in England. The results indicate that there is a continuum between KFC and more natural spaces with a mid-category of 'composite' spaces. Play value increases along this continuum between the two styles while characteristics such as the amount and type of fixed play equipment and the use of loose and moving parts also vary between the types.

Suggested Citation

  • Helen Woolley & Alison Lowe, 2013. "Exploring the Relationship between Design Approach and Play Value of Outdoor Play Spaces," Landscape Research, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 38(1), pages 53-74, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:clarxx:v:38:y:2013:i:1:p:53-74
    DOI: 10.1080/01426397.2011.640432

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