The Historic McKay Avenue School Playground is Edmonton's first downtown playground, a gem overlooking the city's lush River Valley.

Sgt. Nicole Davie came up with the idea while working as a community liaison officer with the downtown division. She regularly noticed families with children spending time in the neighbourhood, and wondered why there were no playgrounds to accommodate downtown dwellers. Through collaboration between Edmonton Police Foundation, Edmonton Public Schools, the Downtown Edmonton Community League, Maclab Properties Group and Manasc Isaac, the playground took shape.

Swings and a slide were quickly marked as must-haves for the playground, as was a hardy rubber surface. Using the view of the North Saskatchewan River as inspiration, the design team created textural mounds, representing the embankments of the river. These "hills" serve as a tactile element, and encourages play throughout the year.  Saucer swings were chosen because they accommodate more children, spanning a wider age range. These are also more accessible than traditional swing sets.

The end result of this community collaboration is a small but beautiful play area for Edmonton's downtown community to use. More than just an area for kids, dog owners and Tai Chi groups are often spotted enjoying the playground.

Scope: Landscape Architecture
Completion: 2019
Location: Edmonton, Alberta

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