The redesigned and updated Dustin Redd playground at City Park in Denver, Colorado is a much beloved regional destination play space. Community design and consultation by the City and our collaborators, Mundus Bishop Design, identified the previous medieval inspired playground as the driving architectural theme for the revitalized playground. The request: a full-size accessible dragon, playable on the inside and out.
Fantasy, adventure, climbing and inclusivity! The dragon is packed with creative play affordances for a wide range of age and abilities.
Our designers toyed with diverse expressions for this mythical creature. Is she a grumpy dragon? A happy dragon? Perhaps a hungry dragon? Maybe, she just wants to snooze or daydream about hidden treasures? The working title became “waking dragon” – a mix of grumpy and snoozy because who can happily nap when children are climbing all over you?!
As the dragon was modeled in 3D, layers of play ropes, nets, climbing bars and flexform were added to the complexity of the design. Cladding with caps on the lower third of the dragon allows transparency into the structure (also better air flow) and intrinsic climbability!
The dragon’s tail evolved through design iterations to become rolling hoops with space for hiding and pretend play underneath as well as climbing and sliding on top. One wing and and open neck allows broader access to the interior play. Play posts that appear to be burnt by the dragon’s fire breath (but are actually stained) add an opportunity for dragon-to-log bouldering.
If you are looking for other Earthscape playgrounds in Denver, check out nearby Washington Park. If you’re travelling around Colorado, you’ll find more Earthscape playgrounds in Fort Collins at Sugar Beet Park, in Breckenridge at River Park and in Boulder at the Civic Centre. In late 2021, another Earthscape playground will open at Herron Park in Aspen and Inspiration Point in Denver.