What makes a playground a fun and happy place to spend time in?
Visibility, for starters.
People like to see their friends and neighbors. When I pass by a playground, I want to see who's in it. Maybe I'll join them! When I'm sitting in a playground with my kids, I want to see who's passing by on the sidewalk. Maybe I'll call to them and they'll join me! Young children in general love to stand by park fences and peer between the bars at the world around them. They enjoy watching people, cars, motorcycles, strollers with other young children, garbage trucks, police cars, etc., pass by.
But the folks who design playgrounds these days in Jerusalem have other priorities.
Here is a "top-secret" playground in one of Jerusalem's newer, peripheral neighborhoods:
The play-crypt ... What's on the other side of the stone wall? Why, the sidewalk, of course. Wouldn't want to expose anyone in the playground to that, would we?
My, that bench looks inviting, doesn't it?
What's really weird is that from the other side of the playground you can see out to the far reaches of the neighborhood, and beyond:
A tomb with a view!
The new construction rules in Jerusalem seem to be:
1)If you can build a wall, do it.
2)If you can block people's view of the street in front of them, do it.
3)Force people to look out at what's far away from them. Call it "nof" ("a view"). They'll think they're getting something good, and won't miss the human-scaled view they're being deprived of.
4)Make sure to keep trees out of children's play areas. Don't just delay planting them: leave no space in which to plant them. That way you can ensure permanent shadelessness, and consequent non-use of the playground during most daytime hours.