Re-Imagining Outdoor Playspaces

An Unexpected Consequence of the COVID-19 Lockdown


  • Deborah Moore Deakin University
  • Anne-Marie Morrissey Deakin University
  • Mary Jeavons Jeavons Landscape Architects


outdoor playspaces, intergenerational shared spaces, sense of place, children's hut, den, or cubby building, use of outside space during COVI-19 pandemic lockdown


This paper presents a series of reflective observations on the use of outdoor spaces in Melbourne, Australia, during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic lockdown. With the closure of playgrounds and organized sports, the authors observed three themes emerging: changes in users and uses of parks and reserves; markers of children’s activities in public areas; and, children’s creation of huts, dens or “cubbies” as evidence of constructive and imaginative play. Using a small-scale autoethnographic methodology through individual random observations, journaling and photography, the authors found clear indications of a new, deeper connection to public and natural spaces across generations and within each of their separate “lockdown” communities. A more visible presence of children and play activity in each authors’ local natural spaces suggests that these places are a source of wellbeing and resilience in challenging times.

Author Biographies

Deborah Moore, Deakin University

Deborah Moore is the Principal Research Fellow for the Early Childhood Policy and Research team at the Brotherhood of St Laurence. Deb’s research is often focused on researching with young children and listening to their knowledge and understandings of their lived experiences.

Anne-Marie Morrissey, Deakin University

Anne-Marie Morrissey is Associate Professor in Early Childhood Education at Deakin University. She has a particular interest in the role of early childhood outdoor spaces in supporting outcomes for children, and leads a program of research at Deakin involving industry partnerships with service providers and landscape professionals.

Mary Jeavons, Jeavons Landscape Architects

Mary Jeavons is the Principal Director of Jeavons Landscape Architects, with a special interest in children’s outdoor playspaces in public and educational settings. Mary has published widely on landscape design of children’s playspaces, and frequently organizes professional learning for teachers, local government officers and others interested in children’s outdoor play.





Research Articles