Swings Park Aims to Change Child Safety Values in Taiwan

Swings Park Aims to Change Child Safety Values in Taiwan
Little boy playing in Swings Park. Photo Credit: Olivia Yang/The News Lens

What you need to know

'Your safety should be your own responsibility.'

Squeals of delight and children's laughter are heard over the bustling traffic underneath an overpass in Taipei. Moving towards the commotion, a playground of swings appears, but it’s not your typical swing set.

Made from old lampposts and recycled materials, the 600 kg swing set, Swings Park, is part of a joint project for World Design Capital Taipei 2016.

City Yeast, a design team under Taiwanese design firm AGUA Design, collaborated with Spanish design team Basurama for this project to liberate Taipei’s public spaces. The two created the Swings Park and Kids Ambition Park in Taipei by using recycled or waste materials and a design model developed to involve locals.

Agua Chou (周育如), manager of AGUA Design, told The News Lens International that the team has been thinking about the problem of monotonous playgrounds in Taiwan for 12 years.

“The reason behind the boring facilities is regulations that come out of too many safety concerns,” says Chou. “I don’t think this is a good cycle because people need inspiration and education from space. Parks in Taiwan are over-protected and not fun at all. You can’t even stretch out your legs.”

Photo Credit: Olivia Yang/The News Lens
Swings Park.

Through discussions with Basurama, both sides identified the cultural differences in concepts of child safety between Taiwan and European countries. Taiwanese parents tend to be more scared of their children being harmed by or at public facilities, while European parents want their children to be able to explore and experience their surroundings, even if that means a few bumps and bruises.

“We want to go into how there shouldn’t be too many warning signs in parks and hope locals can become more aware of their surroundings,” says Chou.

The goal of this project is to change the values regarding child safety held by most Taiwanese and encourage locals to make full use of public spaces and resources.

“I think they [Basurama] were very bold and daring, because when we couldn’t help but inspect our design from the Taiwanese concept of child safety, this wasn’t a problem for them,” says Chou. “We were surprised at how they could use a ‘your safety is your own responsibility’ attitude to communicate with the locals, and the freedom they have in their creations was what inspired us the most in this collaboration.”

The team went through the major safety issues swings sets have had in different countries and designed Swings Park to avoid those issues, but other than that the park is left for children and adults to explore.

Photo Credit: Olivia Yang/The News Lens
Agua Chou, manager of AGUA Design.

Chou says she believes that all new things are a bit challenging and exciting.

“Take Pokémon for example," Chou says. "It’s a fun game, but some people play while driving. So you can also say it is a dangerous game, but it still comes down to how users play it.”

The project is expected to end in October, and until then both parks are open to the public 24 hours a day. There are also volunteers who assist with maintenance of the parks at all time.

“All this is new and we need to give it a bit of space and testing time,” says Chou. “We’re starting from a single point, and when more experiments like this start springing up our city will get more chances to improve.”

First Editor: J. Michael Cole
Second Editor: Edward White