Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA - 2018

MVVA - Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates

Gathering Place



Gathering Place, a brand new riverfront park in Tulsa, was designed as a green space where members of Tulsa’s diverse communities could come together to explore, learn and play. The project of building the park was extensive and ambitious with a long list of exciting features - a skate park, a boathouse, a digital sensory garden and a reading tree, to mention just a few. 

MONSTRUM was asked to design a playground with a focus on architectural quality, that should inspire kids to play and challenge their motor skills - also for kids with disabilities.


US today

MONSTRUM playground river giants

Even though the herons look fragile and airy with their gracious long necks, they are very strong. Since Tulsa is often victim to tornadoes and wild weather, the design has a massive iron construction, with a several meters deep foundation in the ground.

MONSTRUM playground river giants

A big paddlefish is placed next to the two herons with lots of trunks for the kids to climb on. 

Tulsa gathering place herons playground


We wanted to complement the Gathering Place with a playground well-integrated in the new surrounding green area and with a wow effect of beautiful colours and untraditional design. It is a place for kids and adults to learn about the river that passes through the city. Standing underneath the herons and looking up at their beaks makes you feel small and in awe. Just like a little fish in the water.

The tall, proud herons area is for the bigger kids, who want the rush of sliding down the 12 foot high slides and playing hide and seek in the bodies of the herons. The paddlefish is a great adventure too. With the low and untraditional entrance through the mouth, we target the smallest kids, as they can crawl and explore it much more easily than the bigger kids. The insides of the fish are carefully designed with wooden structures that create a fascinating play of light. On the outside, it is a more challenging task for the older kids to climb through the rushes and over the back of the fish.

The playground is also ASTM and ADA approved. 

ADA ASTM aproved

MONSTRUM herons river giants sketch drawing


MONSTRUM heron playground gathering place river giants

The two herons are connected with a steel mesh tunnel to ensure a good play flow on the playground.

Heron Tulsa Gathering Place Monstrum inside

The insides are designed with as much care as the outside. The gap between the wooden planks creates a beautiful play of light, making the experience of climbing inside extra dramatic. 

Inside the heron

The herons are designed to climb inside and crawl up to the top to take the slide down. The kids will feel a tickle in their tummies, when they slide down the 12 foot slide. 

Paddlefish gathering place MONSTRUM playground
Paddlefish gathering place MONSTRUM playground

The many trunks are connected with rope for the kids to balance on and climb across. 

Paddlefish gathering place MONSTRUM playground

The paddlefish is especially suited for the smaller kids to play in. 



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