Recyclable Playgrounds

In 2003, Malaysia developed a learning through play programme as an aspect of their National Preschool Curriculum. The town of Sabah initiated the “Make Local Project,” which was a construction plan centered on the three R’s: reduce, reuse, and recycle (Puay, 2004). By designing structures with the focus of using recyclable materials that were in abundance in their community, the members of Sabah decreased construction costs as well as their environmental impacts. One of the most successful structures was a large tractor tire filled with cement to provide the children with a platform to teach the concept of height differences. Other innovative structures included cutting fallen tree trunks into different lengths to create a balancing coarse, sand pits edged with bricks, and wooden easels constructed out of plywood scraps. A unique component to this project was the incorporation of children input. Once the structures were built, the children got to choose what colors would be used for painting. The unique structures and child participation of this project will be incorporated into our own. Our most useful guide to these recyclables structures can be found on our Playground Catalog.


Methods and Designs from

Playground Ideas is a non-profit organisation funded by From The Ground Up Ltd. based out of Australia that focuses on improving opportunities for at risk youth. Recognizing the importance of play in childhood growth, they organize the development of playgrounds by working hand in hand with the community members. This organisation has broken the playground construction process into five steps centered on Asset Based Childhood Development: listen, plan, design, build, and maintain. Although often overlooked, the listening process is the most crucial step. Without learning about the culture of the community, homogeneous play spaces are built that fail to reflect local methods of play. By incorporating local play structure into the design, the space can enrich the children and preserve cultural diversity. Since collaboration is key to a successful project, gathering the right people and resources is crucial for the planning and design processes. The design requires a balance between aesthetics and functionality. It’s important to provide play structures for varying social scales, areas for community members of all ages, and an attention to small details. Another significant factor in the design process is the choice of materials, which is based on money, maintenance, labor costs, and wear and tear. Once designs are finalized and materials gathered, building can begin. Build efforts are likely to come from a collection of volunteers and workers, making communication vital in the overall construction success. To ensure the longevity of the playground it’s important to develop a maintenance checklist and guidelines for workers.

The programme has compiled three free manuals to outline the remaining four steps, present safety guidelines, and create an interactive layout for the design process. Drawing from these manuals, we can ensure community insight is incorporated into the design and construction of a sustainable community recreational area.



Ong Puay, T. (2004). Innovative Use of Local Resources for Children's Play: A Case in Malaysia. YC Young Children, 59(5), 14.