Category Archives: Malmo

Reeling through the Years II – Somewhere over the Rainbow

Thanks to PlayGroundology’s 500+ subscribers and readers from over 140 countries, the blog has clocked nearly 600,000 page views since January 2010. I had no idea at the outset how it would all play out. It’s a great ongoing adventure and journey of discovery.

This hobby, morphed into an unpaid vocation of sorts, has opened so many doors. I meet play ambassadors from around the world and hear from readers on how they are inspired by specific posts. Most of these encounters take place online but it’s been a real treat to meet some folks in person in Glasgow, Toronto, San Diego and right here at home in Halifax.

There are just so many inspiring stories about play and kids. There is also a lot of important advocacy work to be done to ensure all kids have an opportunity to play. As PlayGroundology gears up for its ninth year, we’ll be sharing some of our milestone stories with you throughout the month of January. I hope you enjoy this second installment.

Kids at Play – flickr Photo Gallery – July 29, 2011

Flickr is a great source of visuals for play. This is one of the earlier flickr galleries I put together. There have been over 2,000 views but I think the quality of the photos of kids from around the world playing is very evocative and well worth a look. Let me know what you think if you click on through.

All told I’ve curated 35 galleries. Among them is Swedish Aesthetic which was picked up and promoted by the flickr blog. There is really nothing quite as marvellous as a fine shot of a kid at play.

The Playground Paradise Principle – Malmö, Sweden – February 6, 2012

It’s not everyday that you’re going to see a rainbow slide. Truly they should be de rigueur wherever small kids gather. This Swedish city has embraced the value of play and has become a bit of a destination for families from other parts of the continent. The municipal government even offers study tours of their play spaces that also includes pitches for the locally invented puckelball.

Paradise might be a bit of a stretch but Malmö, Sweden is quite simply playgroundalicious. It’s the kind of place that would inspire Mary Poppins to gather her young charges around her and umbrella them off to adventure – up through the atmosphere/ up where the air is clear/ let’s all/ go to Malmö.

So if anyone ever has spare airline tickets to Malmö don’t forget to give me call. Copenhagen would be fine too, I’d just take a drive across the Oresund bridge…

Sir Ken of TEDalot on Play and Learning – May 6, 2012

British education reformer Sir Ken Robinson’s TedTalks have racked up millions of views. He is a great storyteller who is passionate about his subject matter and audience. I was lucky enough to see him in person at an event in Halifax several years back and used it as an opportunity to reach out and ask about play.

There are three key terms when we come to think about play. The first is imagination, the second is creativity and the third is innovation.

Sir Ken warmed to the play topic and waxed on for about 5 minutes which you can read about here.

The Unbearable Lightness of Swinging – June 28, 2012

When was the last time you had a swing? It’s been too long for me. I really must remedy that.

There’s something cosmic about swinging, a certain je ne sais quoi. Swings are all grace and simplicity as they trace their airy arcs. In downward sweeps there is the tickling acceleration of free fall. Then as the pendulum tracks the outer bounds of its trajectory, the weighty hand of gravity pulls down.

A couple of more installments coming your way over the coming weeks.

Playground Music – Groovin’ to the Beat

This summer Germany’s first musical playground opened in Brandis. This is where play grooves to its own beat. Here a group of kids is putting the equipment through its paces. Thanks to Roman Rackwitz for providing this behind the scenes footage.


Erwin Stache is the conductor of this playground symphony, or at least the musical consultant. He’s interviewed in this report on the playground filed by Roman for Mediendienst Ost (German required – sorry no translation).


I love to see this kind of experimentation with sound in a place of play where kids can let loose and make their own music. Stache is an innovator and experimentalist and as the video record attests, no stranger when it comes to working with young people.

Music and play are a dynamic duo, one that we should hear and see more frequently. Movement and sound can certainly help to brighten up our public spaces.

It makes me think of 21 balançoires – 21 swings which has briefly graced Montreal’s downtown as a temporary installation for the last two years.

Malmö, Sweden also has a well loved musical playground.

Technological sophistication can makes things fun as the kids in Brandis, Germany demonstrate but simplicity can work too.

Let’s hear it for music and play together. Do you know of any musical playgrounds, or playgrounds that have a funky musical component? Leave a comment, or drop us a line by email at

The Playground Paradise Principle – Malmö, Sweden

Paradise might be a bit of a stretch but Malmö, Sweden is quite simply playgroundalicious. It’s the kind of place that would inspire Mary Poppins to gather her young charges around her and umbrella them off to adventure – up through the atmosphere/ up where the air is clear/ let’s all/ go to Malmö.

The Fairytale Playground, Malmö. Source: Wikipedia; Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported

It’s a city I know little about but one I would love to visit just by virtue of its playground smörgåsbord. My hunch is that Malmö has more imaginative playgrounds per capita than any other city of similar size. At approximately 300,000 inhabitants, it is significantly smaller than its more populous neighbour Copenhagen (another playground hotspot) to which it is linked by the Øresund bridge.

The Music Playground, Malmö. Source: Lekplatsprogram för Malmö, April 2006

In the mid-1990s, the city’s playground stock was getting a little old and tired. Instead of replacing the old standards with more of the same, Malmö City Council made a policy decision to begin building themed playgrounds with custom designs. It was a new playground paradigm, providing children and families with a richer play experience in terms of both imaginative and physical play. Djurlekplatsen, Animal Playground, was the first of the new themed spaces out of the blocks in 1997.

The Spiral Playground, Malmö – Riding the Spiralosauras. Source: Beatrice Hansson

There are now a total of twenty themed playgrounds in the city catering to all age groups. Spend a morning with the small ones at Fairytale Playground, dipsy doodle over to The Spiral Playground with sculptures by Beatrice Hansson and then start trekking for a safari at the Africa Park.

Africa Park, Malmö – life size giraffe

A full list of themed playgrounds with locations is available here. Reviews of themed playgrounds in Swedish are here – Google translate works well enough to provide a good idea of what’s going on.

For Lotta, a Malmö mom I contacted through flickr, the themed playgrounds are an important part of the Malmö play mix.

A lot of land is reserved for parks and recreation and I think it is money well spent. Largely I think the City is making good decisions. There are themed playgrounds and un-themed for that matter as well popping up regularly in town.

Lotta has no problem selecting a couple of favourites that she regularly enjoys visiting with her girls.

I really like the Fairytale playground next to the City Library. It’s very modern and caters to all ages by well thought-through areas. Another favourite is the Farm playground within waking distance from home. It has a barn like structure with swings and slides, carved wooden cows and calves for climbing and riding and little playhouses that mimic the farmer’s home and stables for play for the younger children.

The Farm Playground, Malmö. Source: Malmö Town

We’ve just begun to scratch the surface as far as what Malmö has to offer kids and parents in search of fun and quality play experiences. The Evans family, recently relocated from their US home to Malmö have been out exploring the themed playgrounds. Read about them and enjoy their many photos at the links below.

The Africa Playground
The Sea and Beach Playground

The Space Playground
The Spider Playground
The Forest Playground
The Spiral Playground

I figure I have about three years left to get my three wee ones to this playground paradise. I’m not quite sure how I’m going to manage it but I think it could be the vacation of a lifetime – plenty of fun for everyone without a lot of hype and flash. I’ve also thought that perhaps there is a remote possibility of being appointed by the City of Malmö as the Chief Worldwide Publicist of Themed Playgrounds. This would require at least one familiarization trip accompanied by my testers of choice. Mayor and Councillors, I am ready to take this trip whenever you have a need to call on me…

Readers, if any of who can think of a way, or ways that could get my family and I to Malmö for a couple of weeks please share it with me. No idea, or concept is too zany.

The Concrete Playground, Malmö. Source: City of Malmö

Malmö’s commitment to play is serious business that other jurisdictions could learn from – great spaces that make kids and adults tourists in their own city. Read a brief report on the themed playgrounds here.

Just in case you didn’t know, for the kids in Malmö life can be a circus!

The Circus Playground, Malmö

Malmö – World Puckelball Capital

Earlier this year, PlayGroundology introduced readers to Ballon Poire a schoolyard game common in Quebec. Few had heard of the game and the post generated some interest amongst lovers of play.

Now from Malmö, Sweden comes Puckelball created by artist Johan Ström. Puckelball exists thanks to the vision and support of the City of Malmö. It’s part of a broader strategy to get citizens playing and enjoying the outdoors. Two years after the original field opened, Ström is now negotiating with Milan for an Italian Puckelball venue. Here’s what it’s all about.

The moguls and the spaghetti twist, zebra stripe goal posts remind me of the playfulness of a Seussian landscape. There’s a child’s heartbeat and wonder imbued in the design and concept. Here’s another short video showing Malmö’s residents at play on the world’s first Puckelball pitch

The unconference phenomenon has taken root over the last couple of years. Is Puckelball at the leading edge of unsport? All I know is that I’d love to get on this field with my soccer mad lad to see how long and loud our laughs would be.

Nice site here if you can read Swedish – Puckelball. More on Malmö’s playful vision in an upcoming post.

Last word to the artist from a recent interview published in Landscape Architect Business.

Sweden’s Playground Aesthetic

Volvo, Saab and IKEA are synonymous with a Swedish vision for design that has been exported to an appreciative international audience. Much less well known on the world stage is Sweden’s playground aesthetic.

Here are a few photos to give you a taste of the fare that meets Swedish kids when they hit the playground – flickr gallery here

Photo – Charlotte Nordahl – Creative Commons – Share Alike 2.0 Generic

And then of course there’s Malmo – the city of playgrounds. We’ll visit there another post.

The aesthetic here is very accessible – fun and funky. More on Swedish design.