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Csepely-Knorr, L., Roberts, A., 2019.

Towards a 'total environment' for children. Michael Brown's landscapes for play

Output Type:Conference paper
Venue:Museum of English Rural Life, University of Reading
Dates:16/3/2019 - 16/3/2019

The landscape architect Michael Brown (1922-1997) is renowned among his contemporaries for the attention to detail in his landscape plans but little has been explored about how he developed this into a 'total environment', especially in regard to play spaces. In his 1972 paper for the ILA symposium he argued against the use of play equipment in creating spaces for children, he stated "I would differ from the view that children's play areas need always to be equipped, [...] and I myself would take the view that the whole housing estate, the total environment, should be designed as fittingly for children as for adults". He subsequently went further to argue "Incidentally, I also have a secret conviction that the best play equipment should look as if it were designed for adults.". Brown's award winning housing estate landscapes and their playgrounds - whether designated play areas or spaces used by children - proved that his understanding children's use of space resulted in highly successful open spaces. His playgrounds were praised in influential books both at the time, such as Lady Allen of Hurtwood's 'Planning for Play', and used as an exemplary project in Vroom's contemporary 'Lexicon of Garden and Landscape Architecture'. This paper will examine and discuss Brown's designs for play and how he integrated them into the residential environment in both a national and international context.