phyo: An Open-ended Play Experience


The Phyo is a set of indoor adventure playground design for early physical development of pre-k children.

The Phyo element 1: element 1 is a core part of the whole play experience in a form of giant block. they can be the joint among the rest of the group. 

The Phyo element 2: The second element is the largest one in the group—a hill-shaped hollow equipment with 5 cylinders beneath. 

The Phyo element 3 has been called “squeezy” during the design process. It’s a curved element that kept on the ground by a tall pole. The entrance of the element is accessible by one child, but it’s a little bit narrower than a 6 years old child’s weight, if a child want to enter the element, they need to try hard to bend the element till they can squeeze in. For children who want to climb to the top, the edge on the top of the element are smooth and soft, in order to prevent any injury.

The Phyo element 4: An arch form element with four small multifunctional holes on double side, is mostly a design for individual play. Element 4 are capable for a child who like to stay in a hide-out spot, and similar to the element 4, the holes allows them to observe from the inside. 

The Phyo element 5 is a barrel-like form element that designed for children to play together, when one child craw in the barrel, other kids could roll the barrel around, the “barrel” has some convex points all over the surface, which is increasing the friction, in order to prevent injury or damage of property during indoor play, children also need to use more strength to push it. 

The Phyo element 6: Inspired of regular sand pit, designed for children to play on the ground. Compare to traditional floor mat, element 6 has uneven surface and geographic form, in order to create a various way to play.



As a communication designer who has intentions to design for early developmental experiences of children, to find out how to avoid the disappearance of imagination and ignorance of real world experience of children is the first thing to consider. The best way to achieve this goal is not avoiding children from using digital device, but to improve the design in children’s day-to-day play environments and objects. I believe the experience of play should be designed with the consideration of two different aspects: 

1, Encourage children to utilize their own imagination to create, interact and communicate with the study and play environment.

2, Give as less restriction as possible to guarantee the freedom of play. By referencing this point-of-view, my thesis will attempt to enhance the real world experience during children’s play activities by play experience design, improved playing facilities, redesigned developmental playthings, or interior design will be considered as forms. I believe this will allow children to build up their own abilities to use creative thinking and imagination. My plan is to argue that: 

• Play environment for children should be haphazard for freely exploration, instead of divided as several determined areas. 

• Developmental play materials should be able to let children create with in their own way. 

• Restriction for safety is a barrier between children and their physical experiences of the real world, these restrictions is because the playing environment is not suitable enough for developmental play. 

Credits/Special Thanks:

3D Model and Rendering: Keer Zhang