It’s the 21st century, and playgrounds aren’t just for children anymore. With innovative architecture and developments in kid-safe materials, the neighborhood playground has become more than a slide and a set of swings. Modern playgrounds are sustainable, interactive and generally pleasant to look at, and it’s for these reasons that they are art.
As the art capital of the South, Atlanta’s art is not limited to fine art and street art. The following five playgrounds are fun, interactive art pieces that make those who come in contact with them, regardless of age, feel like a kid.
All Children’s Playground
Located on the eastern edge of Centennial Olympic Park and adjacent to a more traditionally designed playground, the All Children’s Playground is a unique and refreshing take on children’s play areas. The playground is overcast with a roof to protect from sun and rain. It seems to come out of the ground with mounds resembling rocks made from kid-safe rubber. With an interactive “Learning Braille” board and disability-friendly glider swings, the playground puts an emphasis on accessibility and inclusivity for all children.
Location: Downtown Atlanta
The Noguchi Playscape
The most abstract of the five, The Noguchi Playscape is minimalistic and seems as if it belongs outside of the High Museum and not on the outskirts of Piedmont Park. Designed by renowned 20th century American artist Isamu Noguchi, the playground’s modern, vivid and clean appearance gives the illusion that it was built in recent years and not in 1976. From a cylindrical tower with a wraparound slide, to a triple-pronged slide set and intermittent stacked cubes, the playground combines simple shapes with bright colors to make an intriguing and fun addition to Atlanta’s largest park.
Location: Midtown Atlanta, Piedmont Park
Historic Fourth Ward Park Playground
Surrounded by the Historic Fourth Ward Skatepark, a large meadow, and the graffiti-filled Beltline, the Historic Fourth Ward Park playground is almost overwhelming with its plethora of different activities and vibrant colors. The park is complete with a “splashpad” that allows kids (as well as teens and parents alike) to cool off on boiling hot summer days. Historic Fourth Ward Park also includes a merry-go-round, saucer-shaped swings, rock-climbing walls, a trampoline, climbing nets, several unique takes on monkey bars, and variety of slides. Cons of this playground is that it is not Marta-rail accessible and is at least a 10-minute walk from the nearest Marta bus stop.
Location – Old Fourth Ward neighborhood, behind Ponce City Market
Inman Park Playground
The Marta-accessible Inman Park Playground is an exciting but admittedly small addition to Inman Park. The lively playground is a five minute walk from both the Inman Park/Reynoldstown train station and the eccentric Little Five Points shopping district. What makes this playground stand out from the countless playgrounds in Atlanta is its combination of spindly and oblong shapes. Rather than an out-of-place play area amongst the trees and fields of Inman Park, the contrast between the foliage and the brightly-colored playground is pleasant.
Location – Inman Park, Little 5 Points
Woodruff Park Playground
Acting as the most compact of the playgrounds, Woodruff Park combines clever architecture with an aesthetically pleasing design. The main portion of the condensed playground is built to encapsulate the necessities of a playground in as little space as possible. At first glance, the playground appears to merely be a monument shaped to spell out “ATL,” which would be fitting as it is located in the heart of downtown Atlanta, but it is more than that. The large “A” acts as the the stairs to the “T,” which is a composed of a rock-climbing wall and path that leads to the slide, which makes up the “L.”
Location: Downtown Atlanta, Five Points
Photos and story by Jahleelah Shaheed, 16, a teen activist and artist who is passionate about equality, poetry and contemporary art.