Independence Grove Children’s Grove

Bridging Accessible Play
Independence Grove, home to the children’s play area, surrounds a 115-acre lake, with miles of trails for recreational activities. To supplement the manufactured standard play equipment and to help create a distinct children’s zone, several new architectural elements were added:  the Entry Maze, the Box Bridge and the Tree House were conceived to add interest and definition.

These interactive components share a vocabulary of color, taken from nature’s own camouflage, and simple, box-like forms. The repeated iconography generates a sense of place that is carried throughout the Children’s Grove, uniting the elements including the original playground.

The new entry, called Kid’s Gate, is comprised of individual 4′ tall metal cutouts of children applied to metal grilles. When locked, the gate appears as a line of children standing side-by-side. When unlocked, each grille pivots creating a myriad of directions and forming a maze. The metal kids punched with cutout arrows suggest multiple pathways, in, out, up, and through. These cutout shapes create lovely shadows on the brick pavers and frame visitors who are moving through the maze.

The Box Bridge is a composition of boxes and tree houses placed together in ad hoc fashion. The 20′ span rises above the rock-climbing canyon, creating a place for discovery and outlook with views of the lake and the pavilion. Shaded by canopies, the box forms create charming interiors with tactile nooks and alcoves. Panels of shiny copper, rough bark, recycled plastics, chalk, and bottle caps cover the walls in folk-art style.

Owner:  Lake County Forest Preserves
Architecture Is Fun
  Independence Grove/Lake County/Illinois
  Completed 2006
:  © Doug Snower Photography