Friday, February 26, 2010

William Carter School Playscape, Boston Massachusetts, 2008

Many thanks to reader Erica Quigley of the Mass Audubon’s Boston Nature Center for sending photos of the William Carter School Playscape.  Carter is a special-needs Boston Public School, who renovated their exterior space with a focus on accessibility.  I love the idea of using removable plastic bins for the raised planting beds and playstations.

The Sensory Garden and Outdoor Classroom won a design award from the American Horticultural Therapy Association in 2008.

Carter school also has an innovative bus shelter, designed by graduate students in the architecture program at the Massachusetts College of Art.

"The architecture students came up with the idea of what they termed an “interactive rain garden,’’ one that channels water from the gutters into vertical rows of pint-sized silver buckets - and eventually, into the outstretched hands of Carter students who crave sensory experiences. They also created a xylophone-like rooftop, which would turn the rainfall into rhythms.

The structure would also feature rock-filled basins that provided another sensory experience for the Carter School students. They designed colorful seats - set at wheelchair level - for aides to use while waiting with students. In an environmental touch, they routed all the rainwater, eventually, into basins that nourish nearby plantings.

The roof also includes colorful translucent panels, which project, in sunny weather, hues into the sidewalk." [source]


Thursday, February 25, 2010


Dear readers,
I need some assistance with making some upgrades to the blog, adding a map of playground locations and the like.  If you think you could be of help (or if you know how to make a merry-go-round out of a wagon wheel), get in touch!

[homemade merry go round from wikimedia]

Monday, February 22, 2010

Mid-Century Playground of Big Tanks and Boxes, 1967

Life Magazine also had more information about this playground, previously featured on the 1967 it was New York's newest, a prototype playscape designed by Jerry Lieberman and funded by the Pepsi-Cola Company.  Lieberman wanted to create a playground out of materials that were "safe, attractive, and cheap" but had "inherent qualities for new kinds of play".  It was intended for mass-production, though I can find no indication it ever moved beyond this single installation.

The tank climber was in fact an oil storage tank of translucent fiberglass, fitted with colored vinyl windows and a fiberglass girder slide, and the boxy playscape was a surrealistic city formed from storage cartons.

According to a 1971 news article, Lieberman's designs, which he referred to as 'recre-educational', were originally on display at the Owens-Corning Fiberglass Center, and he 'designed for playgrounds all over the country', though I can find no further mention of his work.

"A Children's Garden's of Plastic Delights". Life Magazine, July 14, 1967

Saturday, February 20, 2010

"Playgrounds take a Space-age Spin", 1963

An article in Life Magazine "Playgrounds take a Space-age Spin", March 15, 1963,documents the use of space exploration as a playground motif, including the pictured satellite structure, located in Torrance, California. "In Philadelpha, where 160 playgrounds have the space age look, attendance has increased by as much as 800%".

The rocket climber pictured, still to be found at older playgrounds here in my home state, was made by the Jamison Manufacturing Company and could "accomodate 35 aspiring astronauts".  Rocket climbers are the subject of a much-blogged photographic series by Lauren Orchowski., who logged over 23,000 miles of travel to document the often decaying structures, climbing into each one.  Read an interview with Lauren at the blog daddy-types.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Playhouses from Recycled Watertanks, Katell Gélébart, India, 2009

From the blog 'aplaceimagined', devoted to playhouses, comes news of the recycled watertank playhouses created by Katell Gélébart, artist in residence at the Dune ecoresort near Pondicherry, India. 

" Palaces for kids.. 3 huge tanks , opened with doors and windows and painted with “nature” camouflage to be invisible in the playground. "

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Playground Park Belleville, Paris, BASE, 2008

The Park Belleville playground was inspired by this photo of a local 'found' playscape, photographed by Will Ronis.  A beautiful use of a steeply sloping site, it incorporates a play tower and bridge, faceted wood climbing walls, concrete slopes of varying difficulties that children traverse Alpine-style and a wooden climbing structure called the 'Mikado'..  From the top parents can see the Eiffel tower, and also have a view of the entire playground site.  Found via the always excellent blog vulgare; more photos at the BASE website.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Playground Planning with the Ehattesaht Nation

I had the privilege recently to participate in some playscape planning with the Ehattesaht nation of Vancouver Island, British Columbia.  They are planning a playground space for preschool age children attached to their existing youth center, hoping to make it a place of meaning for their entire community.  We had a great discussion about things like utilizing natural elements and the importance of entrances while we thought together about how to represent their unique heritage in a playful space that everyone will enjoy.  It was a pleasure to work with them, and I'll be updating the blog with their progress.  For now, here is some preliminary information on their plans!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Kaiser and Kuhne Playground Towers

Caro's Tower Room reminds me of these Kaiser and Kuhne play towers....Kaiser and Kuhne is a German company that specializes in large installations with really big slides within characteristic tapering towers. This installation is in Schleswig Germany.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Playscape Inspiration from Anthony Caro

Child's Tower Room (1984)

If you're looking for inspiration for the contest, mull over the work of British sculptor Anthony Caro (credited, arguably, with removing sculpture from its plinth)...

Duccio Variations No. 5 (2000)

Millibank Steps (2004)

Table Piece ccclxxviiii

Chelsea ziggurats (1997) made from railroad ties!

and his most playscape-ish piece, "Tower of Discovery", 1991