Monday, March 24, 2014

Charlie Cole - Interesting Playgrounds

 The first "playground" I found fascinating was a series of structures referred to as "interactive learning environments" and created by Dan Shreiber. They are called "free play" and I think they're great because they're based off of the concept that kids are more intrigued by discovering and learning things. Shreiber describes the "free play" constructs as being based in nature and sensory perception. Each piece is encouraging the children to use their senses to amuse themselves, rather than abiding to the given structure, which is fairly limited more often than not. I guess I love these because they are well designed and play with the idea of imagination and possibilities, which is really what being a kid is all about.

Link to work


This playground,  created in the Hague, Netherlands is an "integrated" playground to include children with disabilities as well as healthy children. Much like the first one, this design encourages possibility over stucture. It is designed as a safe, nurturing space for children to play and explore. If I was still a kid, this would probably be my favorite place to hang out. The location of the playground itself is stunning. This would not be able to thrive as peacefully, as it does in this photograph, if it were in an urban environment. The blue, green, and wood give a relaxing aesthetic that accentuated the organic form/shape of the playground as well. For children with disabilities, it is important that the park looks and feel welcoming as well, and I think they did an excellent job in this case.


This playground in Tokyo is so great. They have used over 3,000 old tires to create an outrageous park in Tokyo called "tire park." The park itself is a safe play environment, as well as being artistically intriguing and an excellent use of an old material that would otherwise be wasted. The park contains tire swings, tire bridges, tire monsters you can climb on, and even mountains and tunnels. If you scroll through some of the pictures on the link given above, you will notice that there are adults present. Not just as babysitters, but as active participants in the park. The sculptures and concept are so outrageous that it's no longer a "playground" in the most common use of the term. It is now an art exhibition that you can climb, jump, and bounce on. This is a great way of integrating people into the experience; making the concept of integration invisible. Since it is so much fun, and such a strange site to see/witness, people ignore the usual constraints that go with it. It breaks down barriers, so to speak. Two "un-integrated" children at the park won't even have time to react to each others differences, because they're so engaged in the fact that there is a 20-foot tire robot in front of them.


This playground by the dutch firm CARVE, was the result of needing a space-saving piece of playground equipment. Unlike the others, this piece does not necessarily encourage possibility. What it does seem to offer the children is a semi-surreal world they can crawl into and play in. Its absurd internal structure is what I find so fascinating. The kids can walk, climb, jump, and even fall within a 3-foot wide distance. There is something liberating about being enclosed in this space, where everything inside of it is just for fun, just for you. I find this very engaging for kids to bond in because they are literally wedged together in the piece. Although it is not something disabled children can get involved in, it does encourage an open playing environment. The walls themselves are used as walls for the outside playing activities as well. In the picture, you can see a soccer field goal to the right (in the background). Now the playground is a barrier for other sports as well. You could even climb into the mesh-enclosed jungle gym and watch the soccer game from within, or encourage your friend. Either way, it becomes engaging to those around it as well. Even if some kids cannot physically get into the piece, they can be a part of the enjoyment and fun around it.

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