City:  Vannes, France

Location : Les Fleurs de Tohannic Play Area – Etang de Tohannic

Year:  2019

As part of a strategy to make the city accessible and foster community, the City of Vannes (southern Brittany, France) have created an inclusive play area on the site of the Tohannic pond.

According to Chrystel Delattre, project coordinator and city councillor for disability and accessibility, the idea for an inclusive playground came from a couple of local parents whose 10-year-old daughter had multiple disabilities.
“In classic play areas, it’s a real frustration for them to see other children having fun without being able to join them”, said Ms. Delattre. “We have forgotten that children with disabilities have the right to have fun.”

With a 750-m² surface area, 30 items of play equipment, and 50 fun activities, Les Fleurs de Tohannic Play Area is the largest inclusive playground in the country.
Proludic designed, manufactured and installed the playground, making it fun and accessible to all. Our goal was to stimulate children’s imagination, inspire them to move and interact with each other, and help them create friendships through touch, sound, balance, and movement.

Three themed areas – three age groups

Children can immerse themselves in an imaginary world based on three themes: the Sea, the Earth, and the Sky. Each themed area caters to a different age group, while still encouraging children of all ages and abilities to mix and play together.

In the middle of the playground are three striking 3.6 metre-high-flowers. On sunny days, diffused light shines through their plexiglass petals, creating playful effects. The flowers create a central, elevated hub and serve as a meeting point for playground users. From here, people can see the entire play area and decide where to play next.

For young children: the Sea

The “Sea” area offers several easy to access, ground-level activities: playhouses, springers, play panels, and a pod for children with reduced mobility.

  • The playhouses have wide entrances, supportive elements, and are large enough for a child using a mobility aid to move about easily. They also offer children a private space in which they can retreat and observe their surroundings in peace and quiet.
  • Springers are fun, dynamic play elements for young children. Backrests and side panels provide good body support for children with reduced motor skills.  
  • The J950 Pick Up is a 10-seater structure mounted on three large springs, with a wide platform that’s close to the ground for easily transferring children in wheelchairs.
  • The inclusive swing offers wheelchair users easy and independent access, and an opportunity to share and play with others.

For children aged 5-8: the Earth

With its combination of platforms, access points, and various play accessories, the Diabolo multiplay structure is a real focal point for this space.

Featuring a ramp, low floors, and safe steps, it’s accessible to children with reduced motor skills – so no one misses out on the fun.

  • Play activities inside and outside the structure, help develop motor skills, fine motor skills, and cognitive abilities, while stimulating the senses.
  • Multiple easy-access entrances make it simple for accompanying adults to share the fun and encourage their children to play or give support if needed.
  • The Earth Space also features audio play items, springers, play panels and trampolines. This makes it an ideal place for children to interact with others as they learn to work and play together.
  • The Sensory Flowers are for everyone to enjoy. Each flower is made up of two sections in bright, complementary colours. As a child turns the central part of the flower, it emits a unique sound. The engraved graphics provide added tactile stimulation, and the rounded shape of the stems makes them easy to use.
  • Ground-level trampolines are fun and easy to access for all children, including kids in wheelchairs. With space for a carer or playmate to join in, the experience can be easily supported and shared.
  • Tactile play panels inspire children to observe, concentrate and develop their hand-eye coordination. The floor-level play elements are ideal for children with reduced motor skills.

For older  children: the Sky

The 87-m² Kanopé multiplay structure is the central feature of this play area.

  • Children have fun climbing in every direction, clambering up and down ropes, and whizzing down a slide or the fireman’s pole.
  • A support rope helps children keep their balance and cross safely as they progress along the elevated pathway.
  • The Twiny car takes children on their own imaginary road journey. Accommodating up to three users at a time, this play item offers direct rear access for children in a wheelchair.
  • Mounted on two large springs, the Double Spring Perch is a contemporary version of the traditional see-saw. Using balance and coordination, children can enjoy this dynamic play element either standing or sitting.

Other features of this inclusive playspace include:

  • A Light-It-Up sound and light play item in each space – Children love to play with this interactive feature. By turning a handle, they start-up a sound and light display.
  • Two tubophones (sound amplifying tubes) connect each space. Positioned 25 metres apart, they’re a fun way for children to communicate and play together.
  • The Sensory Trail links the three themed playground areas, encouraging interaction between different age groups. Children with a visual impairment or reduced motor skills – along with their carers – will find this one-metre-wide circuit fun and easy to follow. As children walk along the trail the surface texture varies, offering different tactile sensations. Surfaces include artificial grass, pebbles, Japanese log steppers, cobblestones, textured concrete, and a soft-fall section.
  • Surfacing to stimulate the senses – Surfacing was an integral aspect of the design approach – and much more than simple aesthetics. Colour, the physical separation of structures, and a logical path through the play area are all used to define the three play areas.  Apart from the sensory trail, the entire play area is covered by unitary surfacing.
  • Signage and furniture to complement the playspace – Panels in Braille and sign language welcome children with visual or hearing impairment. Designed for easy access for people with reduced mobility, the nearby benches and picnic tables invite families to enjoy and spend time together.

In commissioning their new inclusive playspace, the City of Vannes had one overarching objective: to create a play area where everyone, without exception, could have fun and play together.
We’re pleased to hear that the playground has been warmly welcomed by the local community, and has become a successful part of the Council’s overall accessibility strategy.
It’s also attracting families and tourists from other Councils and regions, who travel many kilometres to visit and enjoy the site.
Chrystel Delattre is enthusiastic about the community response and is encouraging all Councils to make their playgrounds more inclusive. The City of Vannes Council is in the process of adding an inclusive/accessible fitness area next to the playground.

It’s an innovative project, synonymous with tolerance and openness to others. The idea was to encourage everyone to play, whether or not they have a disability. We wanted it to be perfect for the siblings.

Watch videos of “Les Fleurs de Tohannic”, Vannes playground: