Beyond Shade Sails: Integrating Shade Solutions for Enhanced Play

As the sun climbs higher in the sky, thoughts turn to outdoor adventures and, of course, playgrounds. But for responsible playground designers and operators, sun exposure brings more than just the promise of summer frolicking. It presents a crucial challenge: ensuring children’s safety and comfort in the face of high temperatures and harmful UV rays.

While sprawling shade trees offer a timeless appeal, they’re not always feasible. Trees require space, ongoing care, and time to mature, adding greater consideration, cost, and resources to sustain particularly greenfield sites. Traditional shade sails, while effective, can limit equipment placement and design and impact the overall aesthetic.

Careful consideration must also be taken to ensure the sails are inaccessible, especially from adjacent play equipment. There are also costs to consider, as there is a substantial investment associated, which can greatly reduce the overall play investment opportunity.

This is where our innovative solutions take centre stage. By strategically integrating shade elements as part of the play experience, we create solutions that are not just sun-safe, but also vibrant, engaging, and architecturally captivating. While shade integration is a core design principle for us, we recognise that feasibility can vary, and we tailor our solutions to meet the specific needs of each site and project.

The Benefits of Integrated Shade:

  • Enhanced User Experience: Integrated shade keeps play areas cool and comfortable, extending playtime and allowing children to engage with equipment for longer.
  • Sun Safety: Integrated shade provides a physical barrier, significantly reducing exposure to harmful UV rays and promoting safer play for all.
  • Weather-Proof Play: Integrated shade transforms playgrounds into havens, offering shelter from rain and allowing children to embrace the joy of outdoor play even during showers, fostering a love of nature in all seasons.
  • Playful Aesthetics: Integrated shade solutions can be artistic and imaginative, incorporating vibrant colours, intriguing shapes, and playful textures that enhance the overall playground experience.

Some Real Life Inspiration: (click on links for more)

Parque Forestal Dehesa Doña Maria, Spain: Taking inspiration from Lord of the Rings, Recreology’s Barbol-inspired structure features integrated shade sails, creating a magical canopy that mimics diffuse sunlight filtering through leaves.


Fairfield Heights Park, NSW: Lappset’s Flora treehouse incorporates eaves for natural shade, echoing the feel of a real treehouse nestled amidst the foliage.


Small but Mighty: Spiel-Bau’s shaded Leaf Nest Swing exemplifies how small touches can make a big difference. This playful design seamlessly integrates shade into the element, showcasing how functionality and whimsy can go hand-in-hand.


Benavie Reserve, NSW: At this wonderful nature playground Lappset’s natural timber equipment boasts slanted roofs that strategically deflect the afternoon sun, ensuring shade where it’s needed most without compromising on open play space.


Seaside Madora Bay, WA: Lappset’s diamond cubic structure utilises translucent panels and timber battens, creating a unique play space bathed in diffused light. This innovative approach offers both protection and visual intrigue, adding a touch of mystery to the play experience.

Townley Park, VIC: Spiel-Bau’s perforated sheet element incorporated within this custom designed solution showcases the versatility of the material. It creates a playful pattern of dappled shade while maintaining air circulation, ensuring a comfortable and engaging play environment.


The above is just a brief glimpse of the possibilities when shade becomes an integral part of play equipment design.

Working with our innovative partners and embracing integrated shade solutions we can create safe and healthy spaces for people of all ages, without sacrificing the joy and wonder of play.