Monday, August 16, 2010

Funnel Playscape, Kunsthofpassage, Dresden

In the continuing saga of 'things-I-wish-I-saw-on-the-playground' is the the kinetic use of on this Rube Goldberg building facade in Dresden, Germany, which also plays music!  Plus I love funnels. If you know the designer of this, please enlighten me!

[photos by Gordon TarpleyRobert and Rainer Fritz]

UPDATE:  thanks to reader Bush for letting me know the designers are  Annette Paul, Christoph Roßner, and André Tempel.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Play modules, Primary school de Burgst, Netherlands AnneMarie van Splunter, 2003

AnneMarie van Splunter's sculptural installation provides an intriguing array of within/without spaces...and a good form for kids to lay on their tummies, which they would often rather do than sit. 

From AnneMarie's website:

"Commission: Playground equipment for children in the age 1-12, on a schoolyard that is also accessible to the public.

The play modules are a series of undulating concrete elements, that have been put together to form an elongated play area. Many shapes are possible with just 2 types of curved elements. The children are not instructed as to how they must play; the zone offers possibilities to sit and lie, and entices the imagination to play."

I wish more school playgrounds doubled as public spaces...and had 'benches' like this!

Photo credits:  Peter Cox

Friday, August 6, 2010

Drejens Playground and Mobius, David Garcia Studios

Two wonderful projects by David Garcia Studios, which operates as an "experimental architectural platform...with an "open door" philosophy, where objectives and partnerships are established from project to project."

Mobius (a form with which I have been fascinated since 3rd grade math) was developed in collaboration with artist Pernille Worsøe and designer Martin Larsen...

"The circular shape functions not only as a playground with a rich formal and textural vocabulary, but as a unifying element for the school, where it becomes a meeting point for the institution and a symbolic gesture for curiosity."

A more fully realized playspace at a kindergarten in Drejens, Denmark uses precision placement of color against natural wood to striking effect.  And do I see a mirror in the middle of that parabola?

"Shifts in scale and direction, and variations in space, from intimate to shared and open, define the social qualities of the interventions. But it is the simplicity of the compositions, which allow for open interpretations, that has received so many compliments and have proven to be an instant hit with children."

The installation was carried out in collaboration with artist Pernille Worsøe and designer Martin Larsen, and manufactured (with beautiful precision!) by boat builders Årøsund Bådværft.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Playgrounds in Portland?

I'm in Portland Oregon at the moment, blissfully enjoying being in temperatures with two digits instead of three, so if you have a playground in the area to recommend, get in touch! 

Yesterday I went to the Saturday Street Market (also open of a Sunday) and ate lunch by the Salmon Street Springs fountain, which is basically an elliptical splash pad embraced by an amphitheatre.  The more I sat and watched, the more I realized how clever the design was: the form sets the splashing children at center stage and ensures that there are always being watched because all sight lines lead to the center.  The splash space has jets that cycle through a series of various spray patterns and is designed so that it slopes gently towards the seating, giving the the kids several inches of water to splash in at the apex of the inner curve, which is where they spent most of their time.  Too many splash pads focus just on the fountain, but neglect the puddle.  We must not neglect the puddle.

And right behind the amphitheatre was a patch of sand for digging; I couldn't tell if it was intentionally placed or had been dug by the kids themselves into the fill behind the amphitheatre, which was losing its grass due to foot traffic.  There were several kids happily digging away and it reminded me of Nora Archibald Smith's 1896 advocacy of urban sand heaps...still very good advice. 

(Apologies for the poor quality cell-phone photos...when I set out for lunch I didn't expect to see such a nice space!)