Playable Design

what we do and why

Playable Design has been involved in creating unique play spaces for over 15 years. PD sprang out of the advocacy and design work of Play Atlanta and founder Cynthia Gentry's role on the Executive Board of the International Play Association and Leadership Council of the International School Grounds Association. 

At Playable Design our focus is on designing play spaces that affect the whole child rather than just the physical child. The early years of a child's life are the most critical developmentally and research has shown that it is through play that children best develop mentally, socially, emotionally, creatively as well as physically. We believe that it is through a special place that provides the comfort of beauty and safety and yet is ever changing and providing opportunities for a child to assess risk that a child's innate sense of curiosity, creativity and self will grow. 

how we work

Our expertise is play. We don't open a catalogue and pick something big and flashy, install it and call ourselves playground designers. We meet with the adults and children who make up the community that will use the playground and we find out who they are and what they want. 

Playable Design is collaborative. We work with a project's architects, landscape architects, construction managers, engineers, and, of course, clients, to make sure a project is delivered on time and on or under budget. We also love to work with artists, craftspeople, carpenters and even volunteers in a community. Our finished play spaces are never out of a box and never look like anyone else's.

some past and current projects

Play Chastain

Chastain Park, Atlanta, Georgia

A Tiny Corner of Play Chastain and Summer's Treehouse -

before and after

We were brought to this project by the Chairman of the Chastain Park Conservancy who knew of our work at Camp Twin Lakes. We held multiple play days with the children which yielded significant insights that ended up in the final design. To help some vocal and reluctant neighbors understand the project and why play is important, we put together an exhibit showing the extensive research and surveying we had done, the desires of the children, the findings of different focus groups, and potential designs for the site. The result was a significant rise in support for the playspace. 

A strong team of landscape architects, architects, designers, contractors and City of Atlanta Parks Department members put together a playground that many consider the finest and most beautiful in Atlanta.

Fritz Farm Playground

The Summit, Lexington, Kentucky

Bayer Properties wanted something unique at their huge live/shop/eat development in Lexington. They thought that a place to play might give shoppers something to do for a break. 

We created a low maintenance play space based on the history of the site as a farm - complete with a barn, a play tractor, a giant cardinal's nest with giant eggs and more. In spite of a drastically cut budget, the play space was a huge success drawing people to the site who never would have thought to go there to shop. 

YMCA/Head Start Play & Learning Ctr.

The New Headquarters of the YMCA of Metro Atlanta

The YMCA of Metro Atlanta wanted to create a mold-breaking play and learning environment for the children attending the Head Start program in downtown Atlanta. Fully aware of the importance of play in the developing child, they want the new space to be a prototype for other Head Start play spaces around the country. 

From a playhouse with a green roof, to sand pits with cut-out arbors that provide shadow play, to living walls of plants, music and so much more, this play space is expected to provide extraordinary chances for the students to experience  wonder, magic and fun while learning. The playspace will open by March 2019.

Emory Preschool at the CDC

Atlanta, Georgia

Sometimes all that is needed is the simplest of things. This preschool serving families from Emory University and the CDC wanted a mud kitchen for their children. Made with volunteers and donated materials (even a kitchen sink!), we created an area that has led to hours and hours of fun for the children. 

Camp Twin Lakes

Rutledge, Georgia

Camp Twin Lakes is a beloved camp site one hour outside of Atlanta. It serves children with all types of diseases, conditions and situations. One week it is Camp Sunshine for children with cancer; another week it is Camp Breathe Easy for children with asthma and so on. It is such a needed place that there are now three Camps!

We were fortunate to launch the treehouse project and to lead a sculpture class at SCAD in creating totem poles for the nature walk that lead to the wheelchair accessible treehouse. The entire project was a joy - from finding the perfect tree for the treehouse, to planning late night s'mores deliveries by canoe to campers spending the night in the treehouse that hangs over one of the two lakes at Camp Twin Lakes. It was a labor of love. 

It all began with the dreams of a 9-year-old camper.

Totem Pole on the Nature Trail

Playable Design has designed and built all kinds of play spaces. No two are alike and only a few are shown here. For more information on Playable Design services, please contact:

Cynthia Gentry


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