Thursday, April 23, 2009

Make Playgrounds Better at the Better Project

Make playgrounds Better

I've been thinking for some time that it would be nice to have a place where my readers could talk about playspaces; whose format was more oriented to discussion than this blog--being more or less devoted to visual examples-- accomodates easily.

Off-blog, I get email with questions that I think would benefit from a wider group of respondents, and increasingly am contacted by students working on playground projects who would benefit from a place they could discuss their ideas.

So when I heard about the Better Project, it seemed to be a good solution.

I've started a 'make playgrounds better' project, and some topics to start us off. Since the premise of the site is improvement, they're worded as 'suggestions':

After registering anyone can respond or start their own discussion within the 'make playgrounds better' project. So you can bring up any topic at any time, rather than just responding to my posts (though I hope you'll continue to do that as well!), and you can subscribe to the project's RSS feed to keep up. Feel free to continue to email me personally, but I hope the 'Make Playgrounds Better" project will accomodate more free-wheeling discussions and hopefully some group problem solving.

Best wishes and happy thoughts for long summer days on the playground,

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Wishbone House, Colin Greenly, 1967

Precast concrete, six feet high and eight foot long, six thousand pounds, "Wishbone House" was the winner of The Corcoran Gallery's School of Art's National Playground Sculpture Competition, partially funded by The National Endowment for the Arts in 1967.

"the piece was executed specially for the competition insasmuch as the work i have shown previously would in no way be appropriate for the location contemplated. i considered the problem in this order: playground, sculpture, climb on, climb in, sit on, shade essential, minimum upkeep, maximum shape, minimum cost, reproducibility." colin greenly, 1967

"As noted in the "Art In America" November-December 1967 issue the visual and philosophic concerns of the glass sculpture were replaced with other considerations: site - playground, sculptural integrity, appropriate scale, tactile response, climb on, climb in, sit on, shade incorporation, and creating a non-limiting "platform" for childrens' imagination. The essential ingredient with which I started was an intuitive, varied, playful "S" curve which was repeated with spacing related to the likely movements of children. I was most pleased when my artist friend Jose Bermudez and his son Alexander visited the studio just when an initial full scale section was completed. Alex and the sculpture seemed to fit each other exactly.

Footnote: The prize included installation of one cast in Washington, D.C. When I learned that the cast was to be installed in a wealthy section of Washington, I called the White House to note my degree of unhappiness with that choice. First lady, Mrs. Johnson, who did much to enliven the District's environment, kindly arranged for a second cast to be placed in a less fortunate part of the city. I'll always be greatful for her sensitivity."

First photo and quote found at the blog airformarchives, second photo and additional information from Colin Greenly's website, leaningpostproductions.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

More on Egon Moeller-Nielsen, 1953

Found via a post at Daddytypes referencing this blog referencing Egon Moeller-Nielsen (something nicely circular there); more info about the creation of his fantastic play sculptures as reported on a June 1953 page from Modern Mechanix.

Intriguing reference to the 'artistic-looking sliding pond'...if you know anything about it, get in touch.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Quote from Rainer Schmidt

In perusing the website of the BUGA playground designer (see below), I found this lovely quote:

"It is necessary to call something your own territory, to recognize the usefulness of the area and to fill it accordingly. When children call the straggly trees next to the fenced-in playground their secret hideaway and love to play there, their order-loving parents and zealous planners should think about it."

Words to live by.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

BUGA playground, Munich, 2005

Playscape installation from the 2005 BUGA national garden festival in Munich, with high-contrast paths like ant trails.

I couldn't find any information on the designer. Any help?
UPDATE: Many thanks to reader Anna for providing the name of the designer: Prof. Rainer Schmidt .

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Caracool, Joel Escalona, 2008

Designer Joel Escalona is looking for producers for his Caracool playground slide, which can be made from fiberglass or from wood. I'd love to see this for sale in a big-box would really up the ante for backyard playground equipment.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Henri Georges Park Playground, Brussels, Suede36, 2008

'To play, to dream as well'

The new playground at Henri Georges Park in Brussels by Suede 36 includes features designed for dreaming as well as playing: carpets of color, a red-box maze, a roof-shaped cloud, and a giant Gulliver that has become a favorite play companion. More photos on their website.

I was also pleased to note the inclusion of three taps of running water; the lack of public drinking water in Europe generally, but particularly on playgrounds where children can quickly overheat is always an astonishment to this thirsty American. If ever I encounter a grumpy European on my travels, I figure they're just dehydrated.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Stairwell Playscape, E. Cobb Architects

The Cascade Lake house by E. Cobb Architects lets the children (and grown-ups?) travel between floors via an interior climbing wall.
According to Cobb, “There was a kind of Hardy Boys sensibility in the direction we were granted.”