RED CROSS WAR MEMORIAL CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL THERAPEUTIC PLAYGROUND
Bursting onto the scene at the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital, you can’t help but smile at the brand-new technicolour playscape designed by KMH Architects. As fun as it is functional, the project is an inspiring endeavour to create a supportive and healing environment for young patients in care.
A vision for healing
During the planning stage for the extension and redevelopment of the emergency centre at the hospital, the expanding building footprint meant the children’s play area and garden would be all but lost. The architect seized the opportunity to create a significantly improved replacement of the existing facilities that would prioritise the children’s well-being and cater to their unique needs.
The power of play
From the get-go, the architect recognised that play is an essential aspect of a child’s development and recovery, especially during extended hospital stays. To ensure that young patients continue to learn and grow, the therapeutic play areas were designed to provide a stimulating and immersive experience. By integrating age-appropriate equipment and activities, KMH Architects aimed to create spaces where children could engage, explore, and find solace amidst their medical journey.
A playground of possibilities
There are four therapeutic play areas in total, with the other two inside the hospital, and another at the hospital’s psychiatric unit. The main therapeutic play area, located at the hospital’s entrance, immediately captures attention with its vibrant colours and diverse play structures.
Tunnels, ladders, bridges, slides, and miniature walls with ropes invite children to climb, slide, and navigate an exciting landscape. The careful selection of play equipment ensures that children of all ages and abilities can participate, fostering inclusivity and promoting social interaction.
Creating a safe environment was a top priority for the client. To them, the playground must go beyond slides and swings to become a safe place where children of all abilities are able to play and explore the world around them. Microfibre flooring imported from Europe was chosen to deck the entire play area, providing a soft and cushioned surface that minimises the risk of injuries. The architects meticulously considered every detail to ensure that children could play freely without compromising their safety.
A united pursuit
KMH Architects collaborated closely with healthcare professionals to understand the specific needs and challenges faced by children during their hospitalisation. The therapeutic play areas were designed as meaningful retreats, offering respite from the clinical environment and fostering a sense of normalcy. By incorporating natural elements into the outdoor space, the architects sought to create a connection with nature, providing a welcome escape from fluorescent lights, unnatural sounds, and the presence of unfamiliar faces. That said, the therapeutic play areas at the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital go beyond mere recreation. Instead, they serve as catalysts for healing, promoting emotional well-being, and aiding in the recovery process. By engaging in play, children can regain a sense of control, explore their creativity, and develop social skills. The therapeutic playground acts as a vital tool for physiotherapists and occupational therapists, facilitating rehabilitation and promoting physical and cognitive development.