Top Modern School Playground Design Trends

Published 10/7/19


School playground spaces are constantly evolving. As we learn more about child development and how it is impacted by play, the school playground ideas and the concepts that we utilise become more sophisticated and effective. At Kompan, we leverage over 45 years of research and experience to create new and innovative school playground solutions. From design through to manufacturing and installation, we have helped create bespoke school playgrounds in schools and communities across the globe.

To ensure our school playground equipment is the best it can be, we regularly revise our ideas and constantly stay in touch with current research and trends. In this quick guide, the Kompan team have put together a shortlist of some key school playground design trends that modern schools can take advantage of. Through this post, you should be able to create a much more innovative playground environment, built around modern goals, contemporary designs and enticing equipment. Here are some major trends to consider.

Sustainability and Naturality

In recent years, it’s become increasingly evident that our planet is struggling to keep up with human demand. Sustainable materials are at the forefront of current thinking and this has translated into the school playground too. Many contemporary school playgrounds are beginning to utilise a range of more sustainable materials such as cork and recycled plastics which have a lower environmental impact.

Whilst these materials are effective from an environmental perspective, the best choices will always be the completely natural ones. Playground equipment made using raw organic materials, like Kompan’s Organic Robinia Wood range, offers additional advantages from a child development perspective that other materials do not.

Whilst utilising recycled or reused products helps to protect the environment, natural materials introduce the children using them to the sensation of nature, too. In today’s modern age, children spend significantly less time outdoors. Over time, this issue only becomes worse and the key to curbing it is creating a positive association with the outdoors. By introducing natural materials into the playground environment, children become more familiar with the feeling of natural materials and associate the sensation with fun. This is the perfect springboard for encouraging children to spend more time outdoors.


Another issue at the forefront of modern consciousness is inclusivity. Now, more than ever, we are constantly thinking about whether our facilities and spaces are appropriate for all users, regardless of age or ability. This is equally essential in schools, where you are bound to find children with a host of different talents and capacities.

Modern school playgrounds are putting an increasing emphasis on accessibility and inclusivity. School playground design is a complex process because the users of the playground vary so greatly. Creating a recreational space that offers something for all children is a difficult battle but one that is becoming increasingly important over time. Modern school playgrounds are featuring more varied and adaptable equipment as time goes on, ensuring they are suitable for all ages and abilities. Through this, it’s easier to encourage acceptance and understanding between children, bringing together groups that might not usually play together; an invaluable tool and life lesson.

Rope Structures

Regarding specific types of school playground equipment, rope structures have become increasingly popular over recent years. One of the most challenging school playground ideas to come up with is how to entice children into trying and experimenting with the equipment available. Climbing equipment that incorporates rope, like our Corocord Rope range, has the advantages of versatility in presentation.

Through creative framing and design, rope climbing structures can be awe-inspiring and unique, grabbing the attention of children and bringing them into the playground space effectively. It’s this natural attraction which has made rope structures so popular and they are only set to become more impressive and engaging as designers continue to experiment.

Cognitive Development and Brain Teasers

Now more than ever, schools are realising the intrinsic developmental value of the school playground. As one of the only spaces where children can explore and learn freely on their own terms, the school playground is a key developmental environment that allows children to flourish with the right attention to detail employed.

As awareness of the school playground’s learning potential becomes more prominent, schools are featuring increasing numbers of developmental challenges for students to play with and overcome. Incorporating brain teasers, puzzles and tests in a game form can have a brilliant impact on both cognitive development and academic attainment. Even additions as simple as a maze on the ground can challenge children to see the world from a different perspective and think hypothetically. It’s core skills like this that can make all the difference in the future and make incorporating cognitive challenges such a good idea.

Meeting Points and Collaborative Spaces

Finally, one of the continually growing features in modern school playgrounds is the presence of dedicated meeting points and social spaces. We live in a truly innovative digital era, where we can communicate via the tap of a button. However, one of the pillars that impact child development is learning effective communication skills and the digitisation of communication does very little to teach this.

The only way to truly practise communicating with others is through direct interaction. Schools are increasingly becoming the only spaces where children can practise their social skills as they spend less time physically playing with friends outside of school hours. With this in mind, attractive meeting spaces play a key role in encouraging natural communicative interaction and collaboration, building those life key skills which children require to develop as effectively as possible.

These five school playground ideas and trends are not the only concepts coming to the forefront of modern playground design. At Kompan, we are constantly innovating and learning more about how children, play and learning can effectively fuse into the best developmental tool possible. All of our school playground equipment is designed using the research and findings of modern scientific research, creating physically, mentally and socially stimulating spaces which offer multiple benefits at once.

Walk us through your project today by getting in touch and we will gladly offer you bespoke advice for your new playground project, or explore our range of equipment for a little more inspiration.

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