Friday, March 26, 2010

Turtle Park Playground, St. Louis, Bob Casilly, 1996

Thanks to reader Guy Fawkes (is it really you, Guy?) for pointing out another playground by Bob Cassily, founder of the amazing St. Louis City Museum, consisting of gigantic sculptures of turtles.  

I always like it when playground animals represent real local species...Turtle Park has "a snapping turtle, a soft-shelled turtle, a red-eared slider, three box turtles and a stinkpot along with a snake that is curled to form an area for sitting and a serpent taking a bite out of the Highway 40 overpass. Seven large eggs, three with emerging turtles, are used to make a sitting area." [source]

Monday, March 22, 2010

Shiny Happy Playground Features from the Goric Company

Some time ago I posted a reflective half-globe from a playground in Berlin...these are made by the Goric company, in either single domes or delightful bubbly mountains.

I also like the strong sculptural qualities of their other stainless steel playground features, top to bottom here are "waterfalls", "rainbow", and "turning points".

They also have a very cool teeter-totter....and I love teeter-totters! 

UPDATE:  Thanks to reader Steve Nowland for letting me know that these components are actually made by the German company Conlastic; Goric is their North American distributor.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Happy Birthday, Aldo! Happy Birthday, Blog!

"Whatever space and time mean, place and occasion mean more.”

Aldo van Eyck would be ninety-two today. 

He's really the reason I started the blog...finding "The Playgrounds and the City" as I stumbled around in libraries and obscure internet postings, thinking that there had to be better playground ideas out there somewhere, but where?  felt like tripping over treasure in the dark. 

So it was satisifying to notice recently that the day  I started the blog, two years ago, was on March 18, just two days after his birthday.  I made eight quick posts in an afternoon flurry when I should have been working, compelled to start talking about the new ideas, the new places,  I'd discovered.  Aldo's was the eighth, the top shot of the first blog cover.  It was months before I had a single reader. 

And now I have you all, and many of Aldo's surviving playgrounds from the prodigious 746 sites that he designed for Amsterdam between 1947 and 1978 have reached their half-century with grace and happiness and children still. 

The occasion is Aldo's birthday, though the place is one he couldn't have anticipated, the virtual landscape of a blog-home, for great playgrounds and their champions.

Happy Birthday Aldo!

[photos from "Aldo Van Eyck the Playgrounds and the city" (eds. Liane Lefaivre and Ingeborg de Roode), which still makes me happy every time I look at it.  The series of before and after photos show a sad bombed-out city coming back to life...recuscitation by playground.  Detroit should take note.]

Monday, March 15, 2010

Sandpit Playscape, Anthony Chimbuyu, 2009

I really love hearing that I've encouraged/helped/inspired students.  Educating new designers about what a playground can be is one of the best means of effecting change.  So I was happy to hear from Anthony Chimbuyu, who designed this component-based sandpit as part of his final year at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada. 

His concept was to provide a facelift to existing urban sites, adding hexagonal elements fastened to a grid resting below the sand that allows for variability of layout and size as well as height customization for age-based play zones. 

Interestingly, Anthony said that although he is most inspired by natural playgrounds elements, the project brief did not allow for them!  Perhaps some educating of the educators is in order.  Thanks and good luck Anthony!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Circle of Squares Treehouse, Jay Smith, Dallas, 2009

Part of the Dallas Arboretum's 2009 Ultimate Treehouse Competition, which required that the structures be interactive and not attached to the tree, "Square of Circles" won a design award from the Texas Society of Architects. 

from their website (I can't find one for the architect): 

"Square of Circles consists of 108 vertical sewer and drain pipes ona 16 x 16-foot plan. The pipes are painted yellow and hinged 16 feet above the ground on a wood frame. Each pipe extends from just above the ground up until it encounters a branch so that each pipe is a different height. Visitors can swing the pipes side to side and move between them. The pivot also allows the pipes to sway with the breeze."

Jay sold the installation on ebay after the close of the competition...anyone know what happened to it?

Monday, March 1, 2010

Playground Architects, Josée Aubin Ouellette, 2009

A series of paintings exhibited at (appropriately) the YMCA during Edmonton Canada's 2009 The Works Art & Design Festival. [source]