Once upon a time, Japanese-born fiber artist Toshiko Horiuchi MacAdam was exhibiting a large crochet sculpture in a gallery in Japan, when children started playing on the piece. Three years later, MacAdam completed her first large-scale crochet for kids. The lovely, loopy play structures have been a hit ever since.

The whimsical net structures offer children an explosion of color, texture and the bounciness of net — no cold metal or lifeless plastic here. Happiness ensues!

crocheted playground full of kids

Artist Toshiko MacAdam

In 1990, Toshiko and her husband, Charles MacAdam, established Interplay Design and Manufacturing in Nova Scotia, Canada, to develop the concept of play "sculptures" on a commercial scale. The first project was for a national park located in Tokyo. The children’s park-in-a-park won a national design award in 1992. To this day the project continues to offer thrills and delight to the children lucky to play there.

Child crawling through crochet playground

colorful crochet playground

The structures are as strong as they are lovely to look at and rely upon specially designed net which is resilient and responsive to the slightest movement.

colorful crochet playground

The innovative designs allow tension to be maintained as the fiber stretches, ensuring safe play. In fact, each project is engineered by Norihide Imagawa, one of Japan’s pre-eminent structural designers.

outdoor crochet playground

To see more of the wonderful work, visit NetPlayWorks.

This story was originally written for Treehugger in 2012 and is republished with permission here.

All photos by Masaki Koizumi except second from last, by Charles MacAdam

Artist crochets fabulous playgrounds for kids
The idea behind Toshiko Horiuchi MacAdam's lovely, loopy play structures was born when children started playing on the designer's crochet sculpture in an art ga