INDEPENDENCE GROVE CHILDREN'S GROVE

Lake County
Children's Grove as Connector
Photo © © Doug Snower
Leading to Play and Public Space
Photo © © Doug Snower
Iconic Box Bridge
Photo © © Doug Snower
Accessible Play
Photo © © Doug Snower
Architects
Architecture Is Fun
Year
2006
Cost
0 - 100K
Stories
1-5 Stories
Client
Lake County Forest Preserves
Team
Architecture Is Fun, Sharon Exley, Peter Exley, Fun Finders

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 accessible 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.

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