7 principles of universal design applied to Spray Parks

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Watergames & More endeavours to enable as many people as possible to enjoy water in a carefree, safe and playful manner. Together with our partner Waterplay Solutions Corp. we realize Spray Parks to make this mission possible. In order to fully utilize the potential of Spray Parks, we keep in mind 7 principles of universal design. Read more…

Wat is a Spray Park?
Spray Parks are water playgrounds with interactive water sprayers and fountains, with which children of all ages can play either individually or in groups. Combinations of water jets, sound, cause & effect relationships and elements that can rotate 360°, render children’s water play highly interactive.
Spray Parks have flat floors, without water depth and therefore the water drains away directly, which makes Spray Parks exceptionally safe playing environments. Furthermore, they are highly sustainable, as almost all the water is collected and reused.

Principles of universal design
The Centre for Excellence in Universal Design defines universal design as “the design and composition of an environment so that it can be accessed, understood and used to the greatest extent possible by all people regardless of their age, size, ability or disability. By considering the diverse needs and abilities of all throughout the design process, universal design creates products, services and environments that meet people’s needs. Simply put, universal design is good design.”

Universal design knows 7 principles. Let’s look into how these principles are incorporated in Spray Park designs.

1. Equitable use
This first principle states that the design should be useful and marketable to people with diverse abilities. Spray Parks are made accessible to everybody, by applying flat surfaces without pools, so that swimming skills are not required and the whole area is wheelchair accessible. Also, in a Spray Park every single kid is enabled to play freely at his/her own level and pace, regardless of its abilities.

2. Flexibility in use
The design should accommodate a wide range of individual preferences and abilities. By incorporating a mix of water elements in a Spray Park, a wide range of preferences and abilities can be met. Typically we create several zones in a Spray Park, with clusters of Spray Park elements that meet the specific needs of several age groups c.q. development levels. And not only kids, but also parents and grandparents can play along in the Spray Park, or interact with the kids from the area around it.

3. Simple and intuitive use
The third principle is about the ease of understanding the design regardless of the user’s experience, knowledge, language skills, or education level. Kids know automatically what to do in Spray Parks, there is no signage to tell them how to play or what to do. Water is a natural source of play and the water elements have been developed while keeping in mind the playful mentality of kids. Because of that, the use of a Spray Park is intuitively clear to its users.

4. Perceptible information
The design should communicate necessary information effectively to the user, regardless of ambient conditions or the user’s ability. The only information one would need is how to activate the Spray Park, as the way in which you can play can be filled in completely freely; there is no need to communicate that. The water flow of a Spray Park can be put into operation by touching an activator. This activator is designed in a way that all children naturally know what to do with this.

5. Tolerance for error
The fifth principle states that the design should minimize hazards and the adverse consequences of accidental or unintended actions. The elements of a Spray Park are designed in a way that every possible way of playing with it, is fine and save. For instance, here we see kids balancing a beach ball on the sprayers and jumping over sprayers, instead of twisting the elements around:

6. Low Physical Effort
This sixth principle is about an efficient and comfortable use of the design with a minimum fatigue. To make playing in Spray Parks as effortless (and save) as possible, the flooring is made non-slip and climbable elements are made easy accessible.

7. Size & Space for approach & use
At last, appropriate size and space should be provided for approach, reach, manipulation and use, regardless of the user’s body size, posture, or mobility. Spray Parks are approachable for all. Multigenerational, all sorts of abilities and mobilities… you name it, any user could enjoy a Spray Park!

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