A Bespoke Lithuanian Cafe Play Park

20 August 2014 · 13 comments

in Developing School Grounds & Outdoor Spaces, Early Years Outdoors, Outdoor Play

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Whilst walking around Vilnius in Lithuania, I kept an eagle eye out for any interesting play parks. Most were the usual rather dismal swing, slide, spring toy and climbing frame set. Yet tucked away in the Pavilniai Regional Park, I discovered this little bespoke beauty.

Li Play Park

It was located beside the cafe and was clearly the play provision for its visitors, thus I struggled to find a child-free moment to take some photos. I loved that it was also right beside the river and without a barrier. So naturally children could paddle there or play here. Somehow I can’t imagine this happening in the UK.

Li Play park 2

The massive white climbing structure could be accessed in several ways. A long ramp allowed a gentle ascent into the house. But in several places, other choices existed including steps, 2 rope ladders and 2 climbing walls as well as going up the slides!

Li Play park 3

As you can see, the structure is on 3 levels. There’s lots of view points and places to look out. It all felt much bigger and exciting than the actual space it took up!

Li Tarzan swing

Also dotted around were other wee surprises such as this tarzan swing beside the lowest level den. There were interesting nooks and crannies everywhere.

Li Climbing bar

Wooden totem characters are quite a common sight in the local area. I liked the cultural application to play and the use of these to create a climbing bar and swings.

But best of all had to be the roundabout tree house pictured below….

Li treehouse roundabout

That’s right! It’s a tree house on a large stump that can rotate. When you climb to the top of the steps you have to turn the tree house to enter. Parents can also spin a child from the outside too! I don’t know if this contraption exists elsewhere, but it was a first for me! So for a cafe play space this was a hidden gem!

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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Sam flatman August 21, 2014 at 05:43

I love this article and your Lithuania experience. The towers and free river play look perfect for child development under a watchful eye. The trouble in the UK is our obsession with sticking to BSEN 1176 and 1177 this tower wouldn’t be compliant,but it doesn’t mean it isn’t safe!

Best regards Sam

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Juliet Robertson August 21, 2014 at 06:07

Agreed Sam – I think for me it was so nice to see something that really was a bit different. I’m not sure how old the structures are. Lithuania is now part of the EU so presumably the same safety standards apply. Perhaps this was built prior to their entry into the EU.

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Kierna August 21, 2014 at 07:06

Oh what a magical space & well used from what you say. Thanks for taking the time to find places like this to share with us.

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Juliet Robertson August 28, 2014 at 21:49

🙂

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Pixie August 21, 2014 at 07:52

What a magical place! I would have loved this play area as a child and would have spent many happy hours in play – exploring the surroundings, paddling in the river, extending my imagination and learning. I think we have become so fearful and obsessed with health and safety – rules and regulations that are not always followed in the EU. This is severely restricting the natural development of children. What health and social issues are we storing up for the future?

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Juliet Robertson August 21, 2014 at 20:10

Yes – places like this do raise questions over acceptable levels of safety and what is and isn’t OK…

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Jelena Finnie August 21, 2014 at 09:58

I know this place and visit every time I go back home to Vilnius. It has changed a little since last time I was there. I think the 3 level structures were there for a number of years, before Lithuania became part of EU, but now they have been painted white, which gives fresh, new look. I preferred them being natural, but maybe they don’t keep for long time and wood needs to be treated. The rotating tree house is my favourite, it is from a traditional fairy tale. I always wandered about safety, but because all cafes are family orientated, the play area is a part of the cafe, which means parents are very close keeping an eye on their children.

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Juliet Robertson August 21, 2014 at 20:13

Thanks Jelena for adding such a personal contribution. This was also something I wondered – it’s a play area tucked away beside a cafe in the middle of a provincial park which is not easily accessible without either car or a determination to have long walk there. So the numbers of unsupervised children will be few, if any.

The white paint is definitely effective.

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Shay Noble August 23, 2014 at 15:52

It looks like a beatiful spot and a wonderful place to play. The little tree house is amazing, I want one 😉 x

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Kriss MacDonald August 23, 2014 at 21:37

It looks like a magical place for children to play and explore1

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Merlinda Little (@pixiedusk) August 25, 2014 at 15:02

What a beautiful structure! So fairytale like too and looks well planned! #countrykids

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Žilvinas Karpis August 28, 2014 at 06:00

There are not so many placies in Lithuania like this, but we have some. Mostly near big restorants with many attractions for visitors. And I’m not sure if such play grounds are following all safety regulations.

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Juliet Robertson August 28, 2014 at 21:50

That’s what I thought, Zilvinas. Saying that I saw a wonderful double swing in Nida. Needed two people to make it swing or one huge person!

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