Nature as Non-Permissive

by Philip Waters

It’s funny, but as I reflect on my childhood experiences of nature, it was those spaces in nature that I ventured into that were non-permissive that I enjoyed the most. Sneaking onto private land to steal an apple from an orchard, or climbing trees you’ve been told not to climb, or sneaking into caves that were at risk of collapsing.

Today, a lot of our experiences of nature is about well-manicured recreational spaces. In the case of children, access to slightly more wild locations is a very rare experience indeed.

I help design nature-based play spaces in the UK, which, if I am honest, are always going to be compensatory spaces for what nature has to offer. But that said, where possible we ask designers, land owners and community groups to put up fake signs saying ‘keep out’, or ‘danger’, on the basis they’re not really ‘keep out’ or ‘dangerous’ spaces, but the sign establishes the potential for children to break the rules, take a risk, and believe they’re entering non-permissive areas.

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Posted: Tuesday, August 3rd, 2010

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