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Doctoral thesis, 2009

Management and use of public outdoor playgrounds

Jansson, Märit;


Management and use of public outdoor playgrounds have become problematic issues for many municipal organisations. This thesis explores the interrelations between management organisations, playgrounds and users and examines whether playground management can contribute to the benefits for playground users. The research comprised two multiple case studies, with two comparative cases in each. Two towns with differences in surrounding landscape and local social connections were assessed regarding use and playground qualities. Methods included group interviews with school children, questionnaire surveys to preschools and parents of preschool children, mapping of children’s residences, playgrounds and private gardens with play equipment, and interviews with park workers. The differences found between the towns and different user groups emphasise the need for adaptation to the local context and to different categories of users. For children, playgrounds have values such as opportunities for physical and social play and closeness to nearby nature but are also perceived as problematic and inadequate. Variation between individual playgrounds is appreciated. Play equipment can create an interest, but place-specific qualities as regards access, placement and surroundings are more likely to make playgrounds much visited over time. The second case study was directed towards playground management strategies in two municipal organisations with different management strategies, where professionals were interviewed and playgrounds studied. Internal dialogue and formal user participation processes had positive effects on the professionals involved, but the outcome in terms of physical playground provision was more unclear. Public participation processes may improve playground management but require continuity and inspiration. Public playgrounds can play an important role for children and other users. They should be viewed in a comprehensive physical and social context and adapted to local needs. Professionals within the management organisation can have a key impact in this but need to become more communicative and cross-sectoral.


public parks; children; furniture; management; local government; case studies

Published in

Acta Universitatis Agriculturae Sueciae

2009, number: 2009:46
ISBN: 9789186195939
Publisher: Dept. of Landscape Management, Design and Construction, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

Authors' information

UKÄ Subject classification

Landscape Architecture

URI (permanent link to this page)