The family-friendly city: Meeting & interactive outdoor play in one

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city’s level of liveability determines the quality experienced by both its residents and visitors. There has been a distinct increase in the numbers of municipalities opting to create safe and healthy playgrounds and meeting places, with a view to making the environment attractive and family-friendly. A Watergames & More Spray Park is a prime example of the ways that municipalities can adopt a creative approach to the design of public spaces, while also offering broader recreational facilities in their area.

Playing, exercising & meeting
The decision to create interactive playgrounds, such as Spray Parks, renders a municipality both enjoyable and socially oriented. 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° make for highly interactive play opportunities. Children can play freely in the Spray Park, and are encouraged to exercise both at length and more intensively, while it also serves as a social meeting place for parents.

Sensory play
Children have a more sensory attitude than adults and are naturally attracted to water. It is important to them that they are able to feel, see and exert an influence on their (playing) environment. Playing with water fulfils this need: Splashing, moving water around and diverting flows: these are all pleasant and interesting discoveries. A Spray Park appeals to children’s fascination.

Advantages of a spray park
Furthermore, children can play carefree in a spray park. As no water is left standing, there is also no danger of drowning. The water flows directly into the drains present. Moreover, the surface provides sufficient resistance to prevent anyone from slipping unexpectedly, while the water play equipment has no sharp edges. This eliminates the need for the municipality to provide supervision. In addition, a spray park requires very little maintenance, has low water and power consumption and does not need a complex water treatment system to vouch for suitable water quality.

In practice: Spray Park in the Municipality of Capelle aan den IJssel
Watergames & More constructed a public spray park known as De Watervallei in the Schollebos forest, as part of a prestigious project designed to make the Dutch municipality  of Capelle aan den IJssel more appealing.

The design
The spray park was designed according to the wishes of the municipality. The spray park’s footprint was adapted to those of the playground facilities around it, so that it blends in with its surroundings. In addition, the development levels and playing preferences of various age groups were taken into account. For example, the park features both tranquil, low-level sprinklers for younger children and larger and more action-packed equipment for older children. Moreover, the entire park is wheelchair accessible.

Sustainability was also taken into consideration: Almost all the water is collected and reused, while the equipment turns itself off when no children are playing, which helps minimise both water and power consumption.

Highly successful
Since opening to the public in July 2019, De Watervallei Spray Park has proven highly successful. It serves as both a safe playground and a social meeting place, while also offering a free alternative to families who are unable to go on holiday. The park even attracts visitors from neighbouring municipalities. In addition, it helps reduce heat stress, while contributing to both a superior quality experience and improved health. It therefore yields an attractive improvement of public space.

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