Pop-Up Nature Play On Chicago’s South Side A Success!

On August 4, our team had the rewarding experience of transforming a vacant lot on the South Side of Chicago, Illinois, into a pop-up nature play space that welcomed local children.

The event took place at a site slated for a permanent natural playground near the Calumet River, which our team is thrilled to be designing. The multi-phase project is expected to be complete next summer.

Adam Bienenstock, engages with local children
Our founder and principal designer, Adam Bienenstock, engages with local children.

“The purpose of the pop-up event was to encourage the community to reimagine play,” says Jeff Lindstrom, our Creative Director and Senior Designer.

“We also wanted the public to embrace the concept of pedestrian space in a historically industrial part of the city.”

To engage children in play, our team introduced loose parts to the installation, such as sand and dirt for digging.

“We had a core group of children who played for about four hours,” Jeff says.

In addition to facilitating nature play, our team focused on building relationships with people who attended the event.

Our pop-up play space on the South Side of Chicago
Our pop-up play space on the South Side of Chicago introduced local children to nature play.

“We asked community members and children what they wanted to see in the future play space, and in the development of parks in their community,” Jeff says.

“We learned nature play was largely misunderstood by many people in the community, who were skeptical about exposing children to dirt. Once they saw the children playing, however, that fell to the wayside.”

In addition to the team at Bienenstock Natural Playgrounds, the pop-up event was put on in partnership with the Wildlife Habitat Council, NeighborSpace, Calumet Connect, Calumet Industrial Commission, Metropolitan Planning Council, The Chicago Community Trust, and US Forest Service.

Thanks to all who attended the event, and who pitched in to make the pop-up nature play space a great success!

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