The Play Institute

Perfecting Playgrounds through Research

Researchers observing children playing
What motivates a child to play? What equipment keeps their attention? Which challenges have them returning time after time? The world's best playgrounds are designed with an understanding of these questions, along with opportunities to develop physical, social-emotional, and cognitive-creative skills.
Joy of movement: motor skills, muscle, cardio and bone density
Joy of learning: curiosity, understanding of causal relationships and knowledge of the world
Joy of being together: teamwork, tolerance and sense of belonging
Joy of creating: co-creation and experimenting with materials

To play is to be human

Play is a crucial part of childhood development, providing opportunities for children to learn, grow, and have fun. Through play, children develop their physical, emotional, and cognitive skills. It allows them to explore their creativity, challenge their boundaries, and build relationships with others. Play also helps children develop resilience, self-esteem and problem-solving skills.

Children playing under wooden house structure

Playgrounds based on user evidence

The KOMPAN Play Institute is KOMPAN’s unit of play specialists dedicated to developing, documenting, and researching play and playgrounds. The KOMPAN Play Institute has developed, researched, and advocated for playgrounds for KOMPAN since the 1980s.

The main work areas of the KOMPAN Play Institute are:

  • Research in playground and child development

  • Testing and documentation of play designs with children of all abilities

  • White papers, publications, and research on playground-specific topics

  • Consultancy and advocacy on playgrounds and city planning for play

Children engaging in thrilling play with KOMPAN's Cliff Rider

Our competencies

Child Development and Play

Play Design

inclusive play reference image

Inclusive Play

Innovation with the KOMPAN Play Institute

Play may look different throughout the years, but one thing stays the same in an evolving world: children remain the experts. Successful play design uses their expertise and input, combined with specialist insight into the ongoing changes of childhood development. Thorough research and a respectful mindset of carefully listening to and observing children at play are the cornerstones of KOMPAN’s play innovation.

The KOMPAN Play Institute follows and conducts continuous research into play benefits and childhood development. These insights lie behind the briefs for play innovation. Documenting the play value and child benefits of play is one main focus of the Institute. It cooperates with special design units within KOMPAN and tests prototypes with children, documenting the effects of playground play. Child approval and specialist documentation throughout the design process ensures that KOMPAN equipment stands the test of attraction, retention, and play value.

Observing how children play on KOMPAN playground equipment

Webinars on play

Adventurous children climbing over natural playground structures

8 ways to encourage nature play in playgrounds



Intrigued children participating in sensory play on a playground

Sensory Play: Science behind child wellbeing in playgrounds

Unleashing Creativity: Building Unique Playgrounds with KOMPAN Design Studio

Excited children playing on an inclusive playground

A Design Checklist for Success with Inclusive Playgrounds

saturn playground schools and public parks

10 design tricks for age appropriate playgrounds for schools and public parks

Tweens love playgrounds: 5 new science-based practice tips for school playground design

Children playing on a large playground tower made from more sustainable materials in Olins Park

Play for the Planet: Redefining Outdoor Design to Minimize Carbon Footprint

White Papers - The Data of Play

White papers

Play for All - Universal Designs for Inclusive Playgrounds

Meet the KOMPAN Play Institute

jeanette fich jespersen from kompan play institute

Jeanette Fich Jespersen

Suzanne Quinn

maria from kompan play institute

Maria Ross Larsen

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