The Amira playground is the signature playspace for a master planned community north of Houston in Tomball, Texas. As the site of a former Egyptian Arabian horse ranch, the developer, Johnston Development Corp., approached the design team with the prompt to create a unique play experience inspired by the site’s heritage. Amira was the name of one of the most popular horses on the ranch and became our muse for the preeminent play feature. This beautifully shaded playground was designed in collaboration with Kudela and Weinheimer Landscape Architects.
The designers set out to create a dramatic play feature to welcome visitors into the park and channel the distinct beauty of Arabian horses. Though the aesthetic is artful and abstract, the designers solicited input from equestrian experts to understand the posture and form of this breed. Nuanced details like the concave swoop of her nose were deliberate and significant.
Opportunities for active play have been intricately layered into the horse’s form. The swoop of the tail net offers a very challenging assent into the main body. Climbing holds, ropes and sling seats pepper the outside and underbelly and a stainless steel slide swoops from her shoulder. The grazing pose invites children near, perhaps to “share” some of their afternoon snack or clamber up her mane.
In the surrounding play space children will discover a small tack barn, hoof print wobble boards, strewn hay climbers and more; all woven within a grove of old oak trees.