Every individual defines “fun” differently. We could go out for a late-night drink with our friends, go shopping, or simply watch movies at home while sitting comfortably on the bed or sofa with a bowl of popcorn on hand. But the Nordics have much to teach us about what it truly means to have fun the dirty way.

Germany in the 1850s constituted the concept of building a playground with specifically designed equipment, and the first playgrounds were built in Manchester, United Kingdom, and later Boston, Massachusetts. However, the philosophy of free play in Scandavania has resulted in more inspiring environments. It all began when Danish architect Carl Theodor Sørensen put the idea of skrammellegepladser or “junk playgrounds” on the table. His goal was to provide urban kids with the same opportunities to play as children in the rural. He’d discovered that kids would prefer to play elsewhere than at the playgrounds he’d designed, and was inspired by witnessing children turn construction sites into play places in the 1930s. Roughly four decades later, Sørensen’s influence reached Glasgow via Assemble Studio. The Turner Prize-winning team’s Baltic Street Adventure Playground debuted in 2013, an adventure playground where mud is the key element. Today, play cities like Copenhagen in Denmark are not restricted to specific areas or to children. Basketball courts in the streets and slides constructed into hillsides are interwoven into the concept of play in an urban environment.

Playing is all about freedom. So the next time we go out to relish in our free time, let’s get our clothes soiled with mud, dirt, sweat, and merriment!