Be The Nerd – Invention and Innovation In Play

Updated: Mar 9

Inspired by Mark Zuckerberg’s facebook post last month – “encourage them to “be” the nerd in school so they can be the next successful inventor!” We wanted to share some creative approaches to playground design for the nerds in all of us.

David Fletcher of Fletcher Studio in San Francisco was commissioned to create the design for South Park, San Francisco.  A description of his innovative design approach was recently featured in The Architect’s Newspaper.SF’S HISTORIC OVAL PARK IS REIMAGINED WITH A CUSTOM PLAY STRUCTURE AND CAST-IN-PLACE CONCRETE SEAT-WALLS. – Mimi Zeiger

Central to the scheme is a custom play structure designed by Fletcher Studio and built by Berliner and Miracle Play Systems. According to Fletcher, it is a perfect geometry in plan, but things get wild in the third dimension. Renderings show roller-coastering steel tubes jutting from the earth and supporting play nets and swings. “If you come up with a custom design that people are excited about and it is unique part of the place, people come up with the funding,” he noted.


The whole park design was generated in Grasshopper and the firm used a responsive 3-D model throughout the process. Although Fletcher considers the design an analog process, his team retroactively built a parametric model of the park in order to test circulation flows and relationships to crosswalks and existing trees. The firm is also using video game engine and 3-D software to visualize the experience of moving through the park. “The days of laboring over a single image are over,” he explained. “It’s our fantasy to go to a community meeting and put on a headset.”


“What stands apart in working with Miracle Playsystems is their personal interest in our project, and their support of custom design solutions. They are dedicated to innovation–looking beyond catalogue designs, and excited to support our goals when it comes to cutting edge design.” David Fletcher, Fletcher Studio


Whatever inspires invention and innovation can be the inspiration for great design – Science, space travel, technology, geography, trains, music, reptiles, sports –

Another app developed to make play a more interactive experience is the interactive light technology incorporated into Waterplay environments.


If you are interested in the integration of technology with your environment there are playful ways that manufacturers are creating play environments that come with phone app integration.  This concept from the folks at Water Gush provides fountains that interact with cell phone apps and social media.


We are always interested in hearing your new ideas on how to push playground design even further. Working together combining your inspiration with our expertise on designing play and incorporating the vision of the inventors in all of us we can move forward in creating a more connected, engaging and playful world.

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