Indoor playground is a shredded-tire engineering experiment

The building in Elmsdale, N.S., sits on top of a base 1.6-metre base of shredded tires, and engineers are studying whether it helps keep the heat in.

'This is the first time this has ever been done in the world, to our knowledge,' says project manager

Beyond Indoor Play opened in Elmsdale, N.S., at the end of December. The playground sits on a 1.6-metre base of shredded tires. (CBC)

A new indoor children's playground in Elmsdale, N.S., is also the site of a unique engineering demonstration project.

Rob and Katie Kennedy opened Beyond Indoor Play at the end of December and say the response has so far been overwhelming. 

"Our first week of business, Katie and I didn't have time to stop and think," said Rob Kennedy. 

What most of the visitors probably don't realize is the building sits on top of a 1.6-metre base of shredded tires.

At the same time the Kennedys were looking for a location for their business, Halifax C&D Recycling was looking for a site to test out an idea: Using shredded tires as infill instead of gravel.  

"This is the first time this has ever been done in the world, to our knowledge," said Jim Simmons, C&D Recycling's project manager.

Simmons said the material has insulating qualities, is lightweight and could be cheaper than regular fill.

Beyond Indoor Play opened in Elmsdale, N.S., at the end of December. The children's playground sits on a 1.6-metre base of shredded tires. (CBC)

He adds it's also a good way to use up the 900,000 tires discarded every year in Nova Scotia. According to Simmons, it takes 100 tires to create a cubic metre of shredded tire aggregate.

It's expected the shredded-tire base will better help the building retain heat. To demonstrate the benefits, heat and pressure sensors were placed throughout the tire material and in a couple of locations outside the building. 

The data is being collected by a Dalhousie University engineering professor, Hany el Naggar, and a team of graduate students.

"We're going to come up with very useful recommendations for engineers on how to utilize and use this material," said el Naggar.

Hany el Naggar is a Dalhousie University engineering professor studying uses for shredded tires. (CBC)

El Naggar said the information will be collected for at least two years.

In the meantime, the Kennedys think the floor of their new business feels warmer because of the shredded tires, and maybe even a little bouncier.  

"The kids have been getting some pretty good air coming off the slides," mused Rob Kennedy.

Naggar holds up a piece of shredded tire. (CBC)

About the Author

Pam Berman

Reporter

Pam Berman is CBC Nova Scotia's municipal affairs reporter. She's been a journalist for almost 35 years and has covered Halifax regional council since 1997. That includes four municipal elections, 19 budgets and countless meetings. Story ideas can be sent to pam.berman@cbc.ca