The Battery Playscape is an intentionally flexible framework that supports open-ended play informed by the local ecology. As children traverse the playground’s 1.5 acres, they will experience a freeing, plant-filled spaciousness that is uncommon for many city-dwellers.
The ecological story begins with The Battery’s location at the prow of Manhattan where the Hudson River meets New York Harbor. Created by successive landfills over several centuries, much of the park, including the playground, is low-lying land, vulnerable to storm surge, high winds, and in-land flooding. The project will tangibly demonstrate how the best practices of resilient design can offer a rich play experience – one that deeply connects children to natural elements and the realities of climate change, while expanding their creative capacity. In the proposed design, impermeable paving visibly directs surface runoff to verdant raingardens crisscrossed by foot bridges, integrating environmental management practices into the very heart of the play experience. Plants will play a key role in increasing the resiliency of the site while also fostering visitors’ connection to nature. The landscape design will feature diverse, seasonal plants that are aromatic and tactile, encouraging closer inspection. Specific plants were selected for their durability and high salt tolerance, due to flooding risks.
Together, the project’s architecture and landscape design will instill a sense of stewardship, encouraging locals and the Battery’s many international visitors to envision coastal cities that work with – rather than against – natural forces. For children, playgrounds are an especially apt place for imparting these lessons, since play catalyzes full-sensory, embodied learning processes. This didactic component of the design will serve as a complement to the project’s dual focus on water management and playability.