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Sustainable Development Polices: Building with Natural Materials in the Children’s Playgrounds

Updated: Apr 5, 2018

Wei-Chen Chang

Assistant Professor, Department of Industrial Design, Chang Gung University & Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, 259 Wen-Hwa 1st Road, Kwei-Shan, Tao-Yuan, Taiwan, 333, R.O.C.


This study employs sustainable development in designing a playground. The research structure is based on the concept of sustainable and renewable design. The disadvantages of the current materials used for playground equipment are discussed. Natural environments and sustainable development are also investigated to provide a new direction for industries engaged in designing playgrounds. The environmental context is expressed in different playground design process examples. Thus, this study explains that the character and image of green manufacturing can be established through new environmental effects. We can also regard natural environmental choice that can promote an eco-friendly spirit in future industry.


Children’s playgrounds are often constructed using various types of plastic or metal materials that are readily available. However, harmful substances such as heavy metals and plasticizers are often present when using these traditional materials to construct playgrounds (Table 1). The decision of the kinds of products available on playgrounds is an important issue. What kinds of activities are currently attractive to children on playgrounds? What is the future direction of the playground industry? How should this industry stay abreast of advancements in renewable environment and find its own new directions and markets? These are important business related issues in the field of education. Children playing on playgrounds constructed using traditional materials such as plastic and metal are exposed to potential health risks, including exposure to heavy metals, such as iron, zinc, copper, manganese, cadmium, and lead (Wong & Mak, 2010). Field designers can either continue using plastic or metal materials that harm the environment and endanger the health of children, or they can adopt sustainable development (SD) materials to build green, environment friendly playgrounds.

This study devotes more attention to the five senses experience that are genuinely educational in addition to protecting children from injury and making playgrounds look attractive. In addition, the study case supports the five sense experience as well as changing color and media transmitting functions through SD material utilization. The huge potential market of playgrounds has attracted a lot of attention among investors. In the general SD context of moving towards sustainable production and consumption, environmental issues should be managed throughout all stages of the product life-cycle. This can minimize the overall negative environmental effects of products and their manufacturing. Environmental concerns such as performance, quality, and safety must be integrated with product development (European Commission 2013). Therefore, friendly and educational playgrounds are likely to become a part of the recreation world for children. Especially, playing without fear or tears provides many benefits to a child's development (Thompson, Donna, Hudson, Susan, Olsen & Heather, 2007).

SD thinking about product development involves ecological standards and regulations. It seems necessary to reconsider or redefine towards an ecological friendly nature for playgrounds. This study proposes a new playground design idea to integrate a sustainable view to facilitate ’happy-health-safe design‘. From the viewpoint of a product life-cycle, companies should also implement eco-efficiency policies, as these can have immediately positive effects on industries by reducing energy and resource consumption.

(Please download the full paper to read more)

1 comment

1 Comment

Unknown member
Mar 03, 2021

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