London Study of Playgrounds

London, England

In 2015, we visited 45 playgrounds in London and selected 16 to study, over a 6 month period. We collected data on over 18,000 people, which included age, gender, ethnicity, and activity levels. We then compared this data to the National Study of Neighborhood Parks, focusing on San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York, cities with population densities similar to London. As many of the London playgrounds were significantly larger than those in the US cities, the comparison list was narrowed to 8 playgrounds in each location that were of similar size (.25-.75 acres) and population density (50,000-175,000 people in 1 mile radius).

We found that the London playgrounds, with fewer “off the shelf” components, more unique design elements, and a diversity of play surfaces, had 53% more visitors and 16-18% higher physical activities levels in children and teens (P<.05) than the more traditional post and platform playgrounds in the US.


This project is a partnership with Dr. Deborah Cohen of the RAND Corporation.


This project was published in December 2017.


This project was featured in the New York Times, by Bernard van Leer Foundation, and Child In The City. It was presented at national conferences for Child in the City, the International Play Association, the US Play Coalition, the Association for the Study of Play, the New Jersey Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects, and the ASLA Online Learning Series.