Graduation Semester and Year




Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Landscape Architecture


Landscape Architecture

First Advisor

Taner R. Ozdil

Second Advisor

Diane Jones Allen

Third Advisor

Amy Archambeau


A child’s play is an essential part of his/her connection to a community, social relations, and physical activity and mentality. Through play, a child gains an understanding of himself and his /her world. “Limiting children’s outdoor play harms their cognitive, social and language development, it limits their physical fitness, hurts their health, and reduce learning and the ability to cope with trauma” (Forest, 2008 p.140). Creating a friendly, safe and accessible environment for all is just as significant as the play equipment. Adventure playgrounds, which are in most cases natural environments for children, provide many opportunities for children to develop physical, cognitive, and social skills, while at the same time increasing personal creativity, curiosity, imagination, and the ability to communicate (Staempfli, 2009). Although there has been increasing awareness of adventure playgrounds in the USA in recent years (Teague, 2015) the number of built projects is currently small, thereby depriving many children of experiences with accessibility exploration of all-inclusive options which provide an opportunity for all children to play, learn, and heal together. Literature also suggests that making a playground accessible may not always address the full range of disabilities that are affecting children, including mental, visual, auditory, and physical, and playground spaces should be accessible by children with a broader range of disabilities, including physical disabilities (Burke, 2013). The purpose of this thesis is to study and assess all-inclusive and adventure playgrounds to inform the design of all-inclusive adventure playground for the City of Arlington. The goal is to design an all-inclusive adventure playground for the city of Arlington, Texas that allows all children to develop critical, cognitive, and social skills through play with other children of various ages and abilities. The research underlying this thesis utilizes both qualitative and quantitative research methods (Sommer & Sommer, 2002) to design an all-inclusive adventure playground for the City of Arlington, Texas. This research follows three steps. First, a comprehensive literature review was conducted to understand the importance of play, play environments, adventure playgrounds, and all-inclusive playgrounds. Second, five case studies were conducted to analyze playground characteristics (Francis, 2001; Marcus & Francis, 1998). The purpose of the case studies was to collect data, gain knowledge from other critical playgrounds projects, and focus on design elements such as accessibility and circulation in the playground, play equipment, vegetation, natural materials, different texture, colors, and so on (Forest, 2008). Through case studies of different types of playground areas, researchers critiqued the richness of play environments and analyzed their suitability for children. Third, based on the lessons learned from the previous steps, a site was selected and an all-inclusive adventure playground was designed for the City of Arlington. In conclusion, the review of literature and case studies, as well as the site observations, reveals that multiple physical, cognitive, and social skills are potentially beneficial to all-inclusive adventure playgrounds. This research reveals set of design considerations such as; equipment is secondary to design and decrease the amount of equipment to consider to design an all-inclusive playground. All-inclusive adventure playgrounds are critical for outdoor play, and they have the possibility to offer a richness of developmental opportunities for children to grow emotionally, socially, and physically. The exploration and the design of such a design illustrate the critical role that landscape professionals can play be influential in providing such visions for families with all children in the same setting. Possible design recommendations for the City of Arlington and the scope of future research is also discoursed.


Inclusive playground, Adventure playground


Architecture | Landscape Architecture


Degree granted by The University of Texas at Arlington