Subject: home affairs, outdoor children's playgrounds, public playgrounds

LCSD-managed outdoor children's playgrounds

Elements of a successful children playground

  • Playground is not simply a collection of play equipment, and the discussion of a successful children playground should cover the overall design of the playground as well. In recent years, there have been studies conducted to identify the key elements required for a successful playground that allow children the fullest play experiences.15Legend symbol denoting See endnote 5. The common key elements identified include:

    (a)variety — good play spaces should offer a wide range of play experience for children of different ages, such as sandpits for younger children, climbing facilities for older children, and seesaws and merry-go-round for children of different ages playing together (Figure 4);

    Figure 4 — Horsham Park, England*

Figure 4 — Horsham Park, England

    Note: (*) The playground features a mix of play equipment, interactive spaces and sandpit.

    Source: Horsham District Council (undated).

    (b)access to the natural environment — experts have noted the importance of including natural elements such as sand, water and trees in the playgrounds, as access to the natural environment encourages children's imagination and improves children's cognitive and sensory development;

    (c)flexibility — successful play spaces can be used in different ways by children of different ages. Fundamental to this concept is the idea of non-prescriptive play equipment and features, which put play in the control of children and encourage imagination and creativity. Constructive play with loose parts is, thus, highly valued;

    (d)engaging with communities — the process of creating successful play spaces will always need prospective users (including children if possible) to articulate their concerns as well as their needs and aspirations. A successful community engagement process will help create a playground that the community likes and which meets its needs; and

    (e)inclusiveness — successful play spaces should be as inclusive as possible to support equality of access and provision of play opportunities for children of different ages and abilities, as well as to support the needs of accompanying caretakers. In addition to the provision of inclusive play equipment, considerations of designing an inclusive playground might include one or more of the following: (i) accessible entrances to and walkways within the playground for children with mobility issues; (ii) different degrees of challenge and scale within the play activities; and (iii) suitable facilities to address the needs of children's caretakers (Figure 5).

    Figure 5 — Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park, Singapore*

    Figure 5 — Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park, Singapore

    Note: (*) Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park is the second inclusive playground in Singapore with a range of special needs friendly equipment (e.g. wheelchair swing).

    Source: Singapore National Council of Social Service (2015).

Concluding remarks

  • In recent years, there have been growing concerns about how safety is being addressed in children's play provision. Contemporary playgrounds, though safe for children, might lack diversity and discourage children to take on challenges and interact. In some developed economies, there are discussions abound of the need for the shift from conventional risk assessment to risk-benefit assessment.16Legend symbol denoting For example, see Play England (2012) and City of Toronto (2014). Risk-benefit assessment improves on the conventional risk assessment in terms of explicitly incorporating benefits of play into the design process, instead of focusing primarily on risk elimination.
  • While variety, access to the natural environment, flexibility, engaging with communities, and inclusiveness are key elements for a successful children playground, play activities with manageable level of challenge should help boost the appeal of play environment to children and the concomitant benefits of play to them.

Prepared by Samantha LAU
Research Office
Information Services Division
Legislative Council Secretariat
12 December 2017


1.Play is essential to the development of children's physical, cognitive and social skills. Through play, children can practise motor control and coordination of body movements, learn the physical world, and interact with others.

2.As at end-April 2017, the Housing Authority ("HA") managed 179 housing estates, of which 158 (88%) were provided with slides, 30 (17%) with swings and 160 (89%) with climbing frames. The Research Office had written to HA for providing figures for the total number of HA-managed outdoor children's playgrounds and the total area occupied by these playgrounds. HA responded that it did not have readily available information on these two areas.

3.As at end-April 2017, the Housing Society provided 22 outdoor children's playgrounds with a total area of 2 479 sq m. These playgrounds had a total of 26 slides, four swings and 13 climbing frames.

4.For example, see 香港遊樂場協會(2014), 香港保護兒童會(2017), Playright Children's Play Association (2015), 香港小童群益會(2016), 《最緊要好玩》,《遊樂場設施》and《遊樂場 不快樂》.

5.For example, in 2008, the United Kingdom government published the first national play strategy and commissioned Play England, a registered charity, to set out the principle for creating successful play spaces. In the United Kingdom, Play England campaigns for all children to have freedom and space to play throughout childhood. Meanwhile, the Singapore government has conducted studies to identify how the different spaces in the playground can be designed and used optimally. In addition to the above, the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects released a policy statement in 2011 about the provision of play opportunities in Australia, and Canada's City of Toronto issued the guidelines regarding children's playgrounds in 2014.

6.In 2016-2017, LCSD changed the definition of children's playground from "the number of children's play area" to "the number of venues provided with children's playground". A venue with more than one children's play area is only counted once.

7.For example, see 香港遊樂場協會(2014), 香港保護兒童會(2017), Playright Children's Play Association (2015), 香港小童群益會(2016), 《最緊要好玩》,《遊樂場設施》and《遊樂場 不快樂》.


9.At end-April 2017, there were a total of 57 free-standing slides in LCSD-managed public playgrounds and 55 or 96.5% of them were slides of two metres or less in height. As to the multi-play play equipment, 1 233 or 99.4% of its 1 241 composite slides had a height of two meters or less.

10.See City of Toronto (2014), Play England (2008) and Woolley and Lowe (2013).

11.During 2016-2017, LCSD and the Architectural Services Department supported Playright Children's Play Association to implement the Junior Playground Commissioner Incubation Programme @Tuen Mun. The programme is to collect ideas from Primary 3-6 students aged 8-11 and Secondary 1-3 students aged 12-15 on the design of the children's playground of Tuen Mun Park through workshops and dialogue.

12.UNICEF HK, Playright Children's Play Association and the Hong Kong Institute of Landscape Architect jointly organized a competition in 2015 to gain creative ideas from students and professionals on the design of the children's playground of Tuen Mun Park.

13.Article 12 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child guarantees the opportunities for children to be heard on all matters of concern to them. This implies, among other things, the involvement of children in the planning and designing for their own play space.

14.See Siu, K.W. et al. (2016).

15.See endnote 5.

16.For example, see Play England (2012) and City of Toronto (2014).


1.Architectural Services Department. (2007) Universal Accessibility for External Areas, Open Spaces and Green Spaces.

2.Atmakur, S. (2013) Focus: Playgrounds of inclusion.

3.Australian Institute of Landscape Architects. (2011) Play in the Urban Landscape.

4.City of Burnside. (2014) Playground Strategy 2014-2024.

5.City of Toronto. (2014) Playground: Early Learning and Care Assessment for Quality Improvement.

6.City of Wollongong. (2014) Play Wollongong Strategy.

7.Greater London Authority. (2016) The London Plan 2016.

8.Kelly, M. (2016) Building dynamic playgrounds.

9.Leisure and Cultural Services Department. (2017) Play equipment for all children.

10.Ontario Ministry of Education. (2014) How Does Learning Happened.

11.Play England. (2008) Design for Play: A guide to creating successful play spaces.

12.Play England. (2012) Managing Risk in Play Provision: Implementation Guide.

13.Playright Children's Play Association. (2015) Press Release: Local Playgrounds unvisited for ¼ of the time during peak hours reflects the lack of fun and challenge of the facilities. Experts announce observation report on Hong Kong playgrounds and call for "better playgrounds".

14.Singapore National Council of Social Service. (2017) Inclusive playground.

15.Siu, K.W. et al. (2016) Inclusive play in urban cities: A pilot study of the inclusive playgrounds in Hong Kong.

16.Street, C. (2001) The Value of Children's Play and Play Provision: A Systematic Review of the Literature.

17.Wardle, F. (2000) Support constructive play in the wild: Guidelines for learning outdoors. Child Care Information Exchange, vol.133, pp.26-30.

18.Woolley, H. and Lowe, A. (2013) Exploring the Relationship between Design Approach and Play Value of Outdoor Play Space. Landscape Research, vol.38, no.1, pp.53-74.


20.《遊樂場 不快樂》,《都市流行》,2017年6月22日。



23.香港保護兒童會:《新聞發報:兒童遊樂場太悶蛋 無沙池又無水玩》,2017年10月2日。


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