Modular Play

A term that is commonly used in today's playground market is "Modular" Play System. As the name implies, "Modular"play is a group of modules that fit together to form playgrounds of varies sizes, shapes, challenges, and accessibility.

The Modular Playground System, or playground unit, is generally the centerpiece of the modern play ground environment. Found in parks, schools, day cares, and any location children play, the modern playground is quite different from the equipment manufactured before the early nineties. Older playgrounds were built with little consideration for accessibility, longevity, and in many cases, safety. Even today, one can find the rusted skeletal remains of these playground dinosaurs. The modern play system has evolved into a well presented, thoughtfully configured unit, featuring materials that are built to last while following strict guidelines to ensure safety, and meet the needs of the physically challenged.

When selecting a playground unit, one must consider space, budget, and play components. Space is a very important consideration as this alone can dictate the size of the unit. The Consumer Product Safety Commission Guidelines for Playground Safety have determined that a six-foot fall zone must be established and maintained around the entire playground unit. Once you have established the size available for the unit, you can begin to lay out the structure. 2-D or Birdseye view drawings are very helpful in designing the playground unit. Using a series of geometric shapes, you can begin to see the unit take form. Typically, decks are represented as squares and the various play events are attached to each deck. Together, the deck, post and play event represents a module. You can continue to add modules together in any direction based on the space available at your play site. Once a 2-D drawing is composed, a 3-D rendering of the proposed unit can be generated. Through computer technology, you can see exactly what the playground will look like.

The next important consideration is handicap accessibility. The U.S. Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board wrote a "Guide to ADA Accessibility Guidelines for Play Areas." The ADA guidelines dictate the ratio of ground level play events (play components accessible from ground level, i.e. a wheelchair) to elevated play events. The goal of ADA accessibility on a playground unit is to allow children of all abilities play opportunities so they will not feel left out of the play experience. When designing your playground, ensure you adhere to the ADA guidelines.

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