Saturday, February 28, 2009

Turning Bars, Madrid, 1908

Improvisation here, but in my observation the turning bar remains one of the most popular (and simple) playground pieces. They feature in almost all of Aldo Van Eyck's work. I don't see them much in newer installations, though...liability, perhaps?

ByChusseau-FlaviensTitle, from the George Eastman House Collection. Online at the flickr commons project.

I keep thinking about this turning bar...I really like the length of this one because it allows for communal play in a way that the typical short length of bar does not.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Learning Landscape, A Playground for Math, Project H, 2009

Project H Design is “a charitable organization supporting product design initiatives for humanity, habitats, health, and happiness".

"Our concept in development is a “learning landscape” based on a grid of allows for both a playspace, outdoor classroom, and a flexible system for math games which can be adapted, scaled, and added to over time.

Four initial games have been designed to teach basic addition, subtraction, division, and multiplication: “Match Me,” “Math Musical Chairs,” “Which One Is Missing?,” and “Around The World.”

Installed at the Kutamba school for orphans in Uganda in January 2009, the playground even integrates a bench system for added functionality as outdoor seating or assembly space.

Amazing concept...bravo, bravo, bravo!

Donate to fund the construction of additional Learning Landscapes at the Project H website.
See many more photos at their flickr photostream.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Bulgarian Playground Animals

I'm quite taken with the forms of these playground animals, at the zoo in Zemen, Bulgaria. Unfortunately no info on artist or date...if you can enlighten me, please do!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Maritime Youth House, PLOT = BIG + JDS, Copenhagen, 2004

"Two very different users had to share the facilities: a sailing club and a youth centre with conflicting requirements: the youth centre wanted outdoor space for the kids to play; the sailing club required most of the site to moor their boats. The building is the result of these two contradictory demands: The deck is elevated high enough to allow for boat storage underneath while providing an undulating landscape for the kids to run and play above."

Thanks to reader DK! for spotting this over at archdaily, which has more plans and pictures.
Photo credits to Julien de Smedt, Mads Hilmer, Esben Bruun, Paolo Rosselli.
More photos at the wacky JDS/ Julien de Smedt want project MAR.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Playground Durability

One of the arguments I hear about innovative or natural playground elements is that they won't 'last' as well as commercial playground equipment.

It seems to be universally assumed that metal playgrounds are the most durable. So I was interested to find this article from the Honolulu Advertiser from January 23, 2008, as posted at 'playspaces for children in hawaii':

By: Eloise Aguiar

Playground equipment installed at dozens of public parks less than 10 years ago is deteriorating due to rust, corrosion and wear, and the lack of a comprehensive city maintenance program has left many of the structures with holes or broken pieces that residents say pose a safety hazard and can take months to repair. Conditions at a small community park on Peterson Lane in Kalihi are typical of what parents and Honolulu's youngest citizens have to deal with at many parks.A ladder is missing from the play structure, the soft flooring used to prevent injuries in the event of a fall has large ruts and the equipment is covered with graffiti...some parents no longer allow their kids on the playground because it's in such bad shape.

Gary Lockwood..said he lives near four parks and all the play equipment has problems including a sharp, rusty hole in the deck at Enchanted Lake Park, a broken viewing bubble and slide that are boarded up at Kailua District Park, holes in the resilient surface at Pohakupu Park and more rust at Ka'elepulu Park.

From 1999 to 2003 the city spent almost $8 million to remove unsafe play equipment and install new equipment at more than 110 city parks. The playgrounds included resilient playing surfaces and accessible pathways costing from less than $100,000 to $125,000 for each site. Today, there are problems at parks across the island. In Kalihi, Salt Lake and at community parks on Beretania and Kalakaua in urban Honolulu, pieces of playground apparatus are missing and chunks of padding are gouged that could lead to falls. Equipment in Sunset Beach and at Waimanalo and Nanakuli beach parks got so bad that structures had to be removed."

I realize that all playground equipment requires appropriate maintenance, but all that money and then removal within ten years? I'd hardly call that durable.

I'd be interested in your thoughts on the durability of current commercial equipment.

[images from a Berlin playground 'cemetery' found at richardthe]

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Valentine's Garden, Helle Nebelong (and Valby School Year 3), 2000

The perfect Valentine's Day playground...another Helle Nebelong project, this time for a garden to celebrate the Millenium. A year 3 class from Valby School won a competition held to determine the garden's design.

"They designed a garden, which is split into 2 different areas.
One part of the garden is full of shadows and has a jungle-type character.
The other is a garden full of light and flowers.
There is a heart-shaped path and small nooks with love seats.
Here you can meet your loved-one and be romantic.

A lake separates the two halves of the garden, but the two worlds are connected by – or linked together by - a bridge over the water. The bridge, and all the life-strengthening thoughts, which lie behind this suggested garden, symbolises a fine crossing to the new millennium.

The children's model of the garden was transformed into architectural drawings and the construction work got under way...The realized garden is very close to the children's ideas and design. "

Grown-ups may have outgrown hearts and flowers as playground themes, but they are still beloved by children. I'm glad Helle Nebelong and Co. didn't reject them as somehow unsophisticated.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Stroking Stones, Richter Spielgerate

The rounded forms of Tom Otterness' work remind me of these stroking stones, which returns us to the work of Richter Spielgerate.... shapes like these are instinctively touchable; I wonder why?

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Slide, Tom Otterness, 2007

Many thanks to reader and stay-at-home Dad DK for sending this beautiful playground slide by sculptor Tom Otterness. I especially like the figures hidden on the slide's interior, giving the child something extra to discover. A private commission, tucked away for some lucky (and presumably wealthy) kid...dare we hope that when the child is grown it will be donated to some lucky public playspace?

Monday, February 2, 2009

Cleveland Playground Housing Ad, 1936

More of Richter Spielgerate later, but for now, this lovely image from the Library of Congress