Taking Play Seriously: The Importance of Play and Urban Play Space Design
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The following paper examines our urban future from the perspective of the importance of play. The lens of this research is both psychological and sociological and includes concepts such as physical, mental, emotional, social, and cognitive well-being. Play is understood in the psychological sense as an essential component of healthy child development as well as an important component of adult mental and physical well-being. Sociologically, play is an important factor in our sense of community. The design and implementation of beneficial play space in cities is contributory to their livability and therefore to their economies and sustainability. The research and information offered in this paper provides the context for what must be an ongoing narrative about how we re-examine the role of play in our lives and reverse the notion that it is less essential or more frivolous than other aspects of life, including work. It focuses on different types of play that allow children to gain developmental and social skills as well as how important the benefits of play continue later in life. It also explores how specific design features can be used to create more optimum play spaces for everyone, even within existing infrastructures in cities, which themselves often have a unique disadvantage in terms of space and accessibility. As populations become more urban, play spaces can be designed in ways that can be integrated into adults’ day-to-day lives and offer children the most developmental benefits.