Friday, June 20, 2008

No shilly-shallying, no dilly-dallying, I'm off to China now.

In China for a couple of weeks, so posting shall be uncertain.
(Bonus points if you can name the source of the above lyrics!)

Back soon,

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Seward Park Playstructure, NYC, 1912

The Seward Park playground was built in 1903 for children from the nearby Lower East Side tenements.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Outdoor Gymnasium, Columbus Avenue Playground, Boston, c. 1900

The 'open air gymnasium', also from the Columbus Avenue playground, also from the American Memory project of the Library of Congress.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

the 'Playstead' at Columbus Avenue Playground, Boston, c. 1900

I've never heard the word 'playstead' used before, but I love it.

Image of the Columbus Avenue playground in Boston, from the American Memory project of the Library of Congress, which is an incredible boon to historians, and from which I'll be posting more playground images this week.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Organic Jungle Gyms, Dreamweavers, New Zealand

Part nest, half spider web, these look like what every kid dreams of building themselves, only they wouldn't think to add strong enough bolts. Enter the grown-ups at Dreamweavers.

From their website:

We at Dreamweavers believe that all children need a magical place to climb, play and daydream in. Therefore we create beautiful organic jungle-gyms custom built into your special spot in the garden, whether it’s built into a tree, freestanding, by the pool or tucked away in that secret corner - we build them all. We also specialise in big jungle-gyms and play structures for the schoolground.

These are all mode of organic, naturally shaped tree branches and strong colourful ropes

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

SafeZone playground, Stoss Landscape Urbanism, 2006

This may be my favorite playground of the blog so far (I do love the Jean DuBuffet, but question its play value). Stoss refers to it as a reformulation of the pleasure ground; I find it a creation of the 'third nature', a concatenation of the man-made and the natural, in the best tradition of the Renaissance.

Many thanks to StossLandscapeUrbanism and principal Chris Reed for providing far more comprehensive information on their work than I am usually able to provide on this blog, thus the length of the post.

from Stoss:

Safe Zone is a temporary garden installation commissioned for the International Garden Festival, Les Jardins de M├ętis / Reford Gardens. Installed in June 2006, the garden is 3400sf in size...with the short dimension on the greater garden festival path. The existing conditions was approximately half wooded, half cleared.

This garden utilizes off-the-shelf safety products (poured-in-place rubber, safety tiles, goal post bumpers) turned or stretched to new ends. The garden establishes a topography of code and regulation, manufacturing three-dimensional garden conditions (hillocks and valleys) that require protective measures and materials to protect against falls. Yet it does so in a way to encourage play and experimentation, leaving open the garden's ultimate use to the curiosity and inventiveness of visitors. Safe Zone is the pleasure garden reformulated and updated, a contemporary reinterpretation of a classic garden type: playful; tactile; sensual; engaging; uncertain; insidious; perhaps even risky.

Project design philosophy
The design innovatively employs commercial products designed for dangerous situations, yet turned to playful uses: poured-in-place rubber surfacing, plastic warning strips, traction mats, goal post bumpers—materials of everyday landscapes (subway platforms, sidewalks, playgrounds, sports fields) coerced into a provocative public space. The garden does so in response to government safety codes and regulations, which typically alienate people in the public realm. Here, those same codes and the materials used to meet them are turned around, opening up possibilities for free, uninhibited play and exploration.

The garden’s main surface, poured-in-place rubber, is especially unique. Often poured as a flat surface beneath playground structures to cushion falls, the material is fantastically squishy. Here, we pushed this material property, installing it thinner at the hillocks’ crests and thicker at their bases, varying its thickness to amplify its ability to destabilize: changes in resistance to one’s bodyweight could actually induce one to fall—into a pit, onto another visitor—or encourage one to burrow or bounce. And the three-dimensionality of the garden's surface is wholly unique and inventive, allowing for spatial differentiation, creative play, and a weaving back and forth among trees in an existing wood...the garden is an open, undulating topography, fluid in its definition and purpose, available for exploration and experimentation.

The garden's strong graphic qualities lend it great visual presence, amplifying its unique physical and technological qualities. The garden also establishes a new sustainable aesthetic: while the garden is clearly synthetic, 80% of the materials are recycled or salvaged from sneaker soles, old tires, and discarded tiles. The surface is also permeable, allowing water to penetrate the surface to irrigate tree roots and re-charge the water table.

Key to images, top to bottom:

MODEL Public garden path is to the left. Undulating rubber surface occupies clearing and weaves its way into an existing stand of trees, depicted here as vertical poles. Red goal-post bumpers protect the trees, while yellow safety tiles circumscribe the garden.

SECTION showing the undulating synthetic surface, with various activities, against a wooded background.

jardins_de_metis_1 Overview of completed garden.

jardins_de_metis_2 Kids immediately took to the park, inventing games and playing chase.

jardins_de_metis_3 Visitors typically approached the garden cautiously, yet were inevitably drawn in to its playfulness.

jardins_de_metis_4 The garden’s rubber surfaces were woven among existing trees, yet their permeability allowed rainwater to reach the trees’ roots.

jardins_de_metis_5 The rubber hillocks provided unique hiding places…

jardins_de_metis_6 …while the rubber pools inspired curiosity..

SafeZone_N …and enthusiastic bouncing.

Photography credit:
Image 2 and all drawings: Stoss Landscape Urbanism
Image 1: Louise Tanguey
Images 3, 4, 5, 6, N: Yvan Maltais
Stoss Landscape Urbanism
Chris Reed, Principal
with Scott Bishop, Kristin Malone, Chris Muskopf, Graham Palmer
Installation by Garden Staff under the direction of Yvan Maltais
Jim Knowles and Paul Wellington, Ontario
poured-in-place rubber installation

Other services and materials donated and discounted by Cape Fear Systems, Solplast, SofSurfaces, Recovery Technologies, US Rubber Recycling, and Sof’Solutions