The Spencer View community is a property of the University of Oregon for student families.  Within this compound is a school – The Co-Op Family Center, who has asked designBridge to upgrade their current play area.  We are referring to this space as a playscape, as a primary client goal is to develop a recreational area that allows kids to learn as they would in nature.  This means utilizing natural materials and maximizing potential for creativity.  Successful natural playscapes are alive and offer stimulation for all senses and kids’ imaginations.

Existing conditions

Site Plan – This AutoCAD drawing shows the plan of the existing playscape, according to our own measurements.

Photos – taken fall 2011, during the Pre-Design phase of this project.


The sandbox and the logs that circumscribe it are a popular feature of the playscape, but the connection between it and the “Crow’s Nest” could be improved.

Quiet corner

This corner of the site works well as an area for quiet and imaginative play, but these qualities could be enhanced by greater insulation from the adjacent parking lot.

The Crow's Nest

The highpoint of the playscape is the “Crow’s Nest.”  For a feature that occupies the center of the site, it could have more going for it.  Additionally, the view looking out reveals how little transition there is from the playscape to the parking lot.  Creating a sense of removal from the immediate (but not geographical) context will be part of making this a “natural playscape.”

Bridge to nowhere

This bridge traverses a minor depression in the site that does in fact fill with water during heavy rain.  However, the drainage below could be better choreographed to give this bridge a greater sense of purpose.

Boulder circle

These boulders are popular recipients of chalk decoration, but don’t work well from a safety standpoint and impede the transition outdoors from the school building.

Toddler/wobbler playscape

Finally, the toddler/wobbler area serves children under the age of 3.  It works pretty well currently, but could use visual shielding from the mechanical equipment in the background and needs some landscape adjustments.


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