Question of the Month: How can the concept of water play be incorporated into mixed-use developments? - by Meghan O’Brien

March 24, 2017 - Shopping Centers
Meghan O'Brien, M.E. O'Brien & Sons, Inc.

Mixed-use developments are on the rise and, when done well, offer lots of great benefits.  A great mixed-use development design shows a combination of residential and commercial properties that offer an ideal location, a wide variety of amenities, attractive landscape and walkability.  An integral part of all mixed-use developments should be the incorporation of play.  Quite simply, play brings families together and promotes healthy living.  Two desirable lifestyle choices in today’s world. 

So what does “play” mean?  It certainly means different things depending upon your age or interests.  But to all, play is the opportunity to participate in an activity that brings enjoyment.  Why would you incorporate play into a mixed-use development?  Because play serves an important role in allowing us all to unwind, recharge, create memories and enjoy each other.  In today’s busy world, these are desirable and sought-after qualities in an urban landscape. 

Incorporating water play into a mixed-use development is not typical but, when done creatively and sensibly, can be something that stops people in their tracks.  Water is a fun summer activity that can be a great draw for any development trying to attract families.  It does not necessarily have to mean waterslides and bathing suits, but could be an interaction with water in a way that keeps participants in their street clothes and fully engaged with those around them.  Flowing water offers endless opportunity for discovery and play. 

Water Journey and Watermark are two features from Vortex Aquatic Structures that make for amazing attractions that can be incorporated into any mixed-use development that appeals to families and encourages them to stay and play. 

Water Journey is a ground level experience that is accessible, great for all ages and encourages families to play together.  It creates a vibrant space that invites everyone to play, socialize and contemplate the movement of water.   Incorporating different water effects and flow-types, people of all ages can interact with Water Journey and its features.  The many moveable parts allow users the opportunity to control and manipulate the flow of water and encourage imaginative play.  Children get the opportunity to think about concepts like water displacement and volume as they explore the Water Journey. 

Watermark is a cutting-edge interactive centerpiece feature that creates patterns and words by manipulating the flow of water.  The Watermark incorporates LED lighting so that the system is usable and interactive at night thus maximizing operating hours.  Users can control the system using their mobile device or an on-site controller which allows them to choose from pre-programmed sequences. Watermark engages people instantly and is mesmerizing to watch.  The feature can even be revenue generating when used for advertising opportunities.   

Both Water Journey and Watermark Water allow for multi-generational play and can be easily incorporated into a shopping or mixed-use developments that are intent on creating destination sites for families.

Whatever your preference M.E. O’Brien & Sons is waiting and ready to help you to maximize your potential in attracting families and creating destination mixed-use developments.

Meghan O’Brien Taylor is president of M.E. O’Brien & Sons, Inc., Medfield, Mass.

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