TM 5-803-11/AFJMAN 32-10139
THE DESIGN CRITERIA
or more design elements. For example, the dramatic
play component in figure 4-1 includes the following
The design criteria document is the basis for de-
design elements: platforms, shade, and a bench.
sign. It identifies all requirements for the design of
b. Manufactured Play Equipment. Play equip-
the outdoor play area, including findings of the site
ment is one of many types of play area components
inventory and analysis, the user needs analysis,
that comprise a play area. Manufactured play equip-
and relevant guidance provided in standards, regu-
ment should also be carefully selected to ensure that
lations, and the installation master plan. Based on
it meets the safety requirements for the primary age
this information, the designer will develop a concep-
group using the play area, provides a variety of play
tual (10%) design that identifies selected play area
activities to meet developmental needs, and meets
components and the site layout. The play area de-
the needs of children with disabilities.
sign should be well-defined and age-appropriate. A
(1) Play Events. Manufactured play equipment,
play area primarily composed of manufactured play
such as climbers, slides, and track rides, that pro-
equipment or freestanding play equipment scat-
vides one or more play activities is called a play
tered throughout a family housing area does not
event (fig 4-2). For example, the play activities pro-
fully meet this requirement.
vided by the manufactured play equipment in figure
4--2 may include climbing, sliding, and dramatic play.
4-2. Confirm the Age Group Served.
(2) Freestanding Structure. A single play event,
The play area designer and play area committee
such as swings, rocking animals, or climbers, may
should review population data and the results of the
be installed as a freestanding structure that is not
user needs analysis. Based on these findings, the
functionally linked to any other play event. In fig-
age group to be served by the play area will be
ure 4-2, the slide is installed as a freestanding
confirmed. This age group will be documented in the
design criteria report.
(3) Composite Structure. In addition, two or
more play events may be combined to form a com-
4-3. Identify Play Area Goals.
posite structure. In figure 4-2, the composite struc-
The goals for the play area should identify the
ture includes the following play events: ring
play area's key developmental and environmental
climber, slide, horizontal ladder, and track ride.
benefits. The goals should also address manage-
4-5. Selection Criteria for Play Area Compo-
ment issues, such as maintenance and implementa-
tion of standards and regulations. These goals are
part of the design criteria report.
When selecting play components, child develop-
ment needs, accessibility, maintenance require-
4-4. Play Area Components and Manufac-
ments and costs should be considered.
tured Play Equipment.
a. Child Development. A diverse play area that
To create a diverse play area, a variety of compo-
supports child development will include a range of
nents that support children's physical, cognitive,
play activity, sensory variety, spatial complexity,
emotional, and social development should be in-
graduated challenge, and linkage and flow between
cluded. A play area component creates a defined
play area components. Chapter 5 illustrates how
setting that supports a particular type of play activ-
play area component may be combined to create
ity, such as dramatic play, or supports user safety,
diverse play areas.
comfort, and convenience. Play area components
(1) Range of Play Activity. Children develop
may include: the entry area; pathways; sports and
physically, cognitively, emotionally, and socially
games; dramatic play; sand play; gardens; gather-
through interaction with the environment and each
ing places; manufactured play equipment; plant
other. Most existing play areas emphasize gross mo-
materials; land forms; separation and barriers;
tor activity and sensory activity. Properly designed
signage; and parking.
and selected play area components should also sup-
port fine motor activity, social play, and other devel-
a. Play Area Components. In figure 4-1, the play
opmental needs. A given play area component can
area includes four components: manufactured play
support different developmental needs depending
equipment, dramatic play, pathways, and the entry
upon how it is used by a child. For example, manu-
area. Each play area component may consist of one