As the design development process continued, the Meteor Shower was linked to other newly designed activities forming the Minkar Constellation. The concept of linking one ground level accessible play to another, in a series, was an innovation in playground design. The design team called this solution a ‘Ground Level Composite Play Structure’ and at the time of its development, this was, I believe, unique in the industry.2 Since then it has become the inspiration for many other playground
equipment producers. This ground level concept has special relevance to the ongoing debate about accessibility and it is the foundation upon which the entire Galaxy series complies with the ADAAG. Galaxy achieves compliance by providing several unique features. These features differ from traditional play structure solutions because here the child is not required to overcome structural barriers, such as ramps or stairs, in order to play. On the contrary, the Galaxy activities come down to the ground, presenting play opportunities directly in front of any child, and inviting the child to engage in play at any point. Thus play is immediate and instantly accessible.
Another significant feature of the Galaxy products is the concept of repetition. For example, when a special component is placed at a higher level, an equal component is placed at ground level. As such the focus of play is not necessarily about reaching the highest point and as such a wider range of children can take part. A third key feature of Galaxy is the intentional transparency of the design, which makes for easy visual and vocal communication between children, and between children and their caregivers. In this way Galaxy differs from the traditional composite play structures where play often takes place on upper
(Drawings: Michael Laris.)
platforms hidden behind safety barrier screens. In addition, Galaxy is built up around a concept called ‘Activity to Activity’, meaning that there are no platforms, walls, steps, or other components that cannot be used as part of the activity of play. Instead, it is deliberately designed so that one play component is directly linked to the next in a complex sequence. Connection joints are rubber coated so that they facilitate children in their natural tendency to do things in their own way and climb in unintended directions around the equipment.
The result of the combination of these design features is that the Galaxy activities are accessible to all participants regardless of whether they have the ability or desire to leave behind their mobility device, caregiver, parents, or their friends.