Thursday, July 31, 2008

Maya Lin's Wavefield should be a playground...

Anyone else want to see Maya Lin's Wavefield as a playground?

Yeah. Me too.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Joseph Brown, playground designer

An Instructor of Boxing at Princeton University for 25 years as well as a talented sculptor, Joseph Brown was inspired by the tensile qualities of the boxing ring to create playground structures that required not only balance but also cooperation with others 'on the ropes'.

"In 1954 he presented a paper at the National Recreation Congress and exhibited models of “play Communities,” designated to re-establish play as “a preparation for the responsibilities of maturity", with an emphasis on interdependency and cause and effect.

from a biography (focused mainly on his sculptural work)
Joe Brown's work quite obviously forms the basis for the tensile climbing structures commercially available today.

Jumping Pillow

The marshmallow trampolines at Showa Kinen are a custom and likely vastly more expensive version of this commercially available product, the Jumping Pillow.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Showa Kinen Park, Tokyo, Fumiaki Takano, 1993

Showa Kinen park will definitely be a stop if I ever get to Tokyo! It was difficult for me to find who designed this, but credit appears to be due to Fumiaki Takano, who received a design award for it in 1993.

rock wall, via Dianno_O at flickr

dragonland via quirckyjapanphotos

climbing nets and marshmallow trampolines via jmarnaud at flickr

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Beyond the Swing Set

A brief but interesting slide show at the New York Times entitled 'Beyond the Swing Set' features the 'fog forest' of Tokyo's Showa Kinen park "which combines truncated pyramids with a 32-foot steel tube that emits artificial fog every 15 minutes. Atsushi Kitagawara Architects collaborated with the artist Fujiko Nakaya to create this mist-shrouded world, where the fog shifts and clears just as it does in real life. "

Lovely...I always liked to go out in the fog as a child.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Hula Hoop Dome, Minsuk Cho, 2008

I'd like to see this on a playground....temporary installation by Minsuk Cho of Mass Studies for the Storefront for Art and Architecture in New York...formed by zip-tying over a thousand hula hoops to a metal frame.

I've toyed with the idea of installing one of these, but have decided it wouldn't hold up to climbing.
So I will content myself with zip-tying hula hoops all over an ugly chain link fence on my church's playground.
photos via fivefootway

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Casals Elementary School garden, Architreasures, 2005

It's more a schoolyard garden than a playground, but I was really inspired by seeing these photos of children participating (and using power tools even!) to help build this Chicago project.
Good DIY ideas here...that split log border is a nice edging alternative.

From architreasures, "an arts-based community development organization reducing social isolation by creating grassroots partnerships to build public spaces, empowering individuals to shape their future and the future of their community."

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

HERO playground, Rural Studio, Greensboro Alabama, 1996-1997

I hope to someday see the work of Rural Studio in Alabama, including this playground by Melissa Teng and Joe Alcock which was one of the 1996-1997 student projects.

"The H.E.R.O. (Hale Empowerment and Revitalization Organization) Playground was built for the Hale County Department of Human Resources, adjacent to their building in Greensboro, Alabama. The design was inspired by research indicating that children are most comfortable in natural environments.

Students used natural materials and simple shapes to increase the playground’s appeal to children. Donated electrical poles, which are angled in different directions, are meant to resemble trees. There are also cylinders for the children to climb through, a tire swing, and a large sandbox. Beautifully landscaped, the playground is not only a visually appealing project, but has been enjoyed by many Hale County children."

I had some difficulty finding good photos of this...if you have better ones please pass them on.

photos by nonsense bird via flickr, amy_elizabeth_west via flickr, and the aforelinked Rural Studio website.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Boston Children's Museum, 2008, Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates

Not really a playground, but certainly playful, the maze plaza and marble boulders from the Boston Children's Museum.

The jury says: "It is playful and daring without being silly and avoids the clich├ęs of working with children’s landscapes".

Photo credits: Elizabeth Felicella

Outdoor 'Learning Environment' for PS 19, Queens, NY, Ken Smith

I like the idea of a 'learning environment' rather than a playground...

Rolling dumpster planters with cloud fence, recycled log reading spot, and butterfly garden of this 2004 ASLA award winner by Ken Smith (he of the 'fake' MOMA rooftop garden)
This was a low-budget, pro bono project...well done.

Photos from Paul Warchol Photography Inc.
Back from China, where I must say there aren't very many playgrounds.

Public spaces and parks commonly had some of the exercise equipment installations featured previously, but few people were using them.