Thursday, June 21, 2012

More Playground Crochet from Toshiko Horiuchi MacAdam

The post about the crochet playground constructions of Toshiko Horiuchi MacAdam is one of the most popular ever here at Playscapes (second only to the Puckelball Pitch in page views).

It has been a bit difficult to find information on Toshiko's work, as most of the locations are in Japan.  But the MacAdams have recently launched their own site with more information about their unique playscapes, which they call can now see a comprehensive list of locations, as well as previously unavailable photos of each, a small selection of which are seen below.   Oh, the eye candy...don't you feel happy just looking at these!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Fairy Houses and Forts, Powell Gardens, Kansas City, 2012

Temporary installations, like the Fairy Houses and Forts exhibition at Powell Gardens in Kansas City, running from May 19 til October 7, are a great opportunity to explore new interpretations of old classics like the playhouse.

The Light Wings Pavilion by DA+UD is constructed of otherwise unusable 2x4 drops, a common waste product of any construction site, to make a larger structure reminiscent of Thoughtbarn's Playhive.  Cut-outs in the roof and walls cast illuminated fairy wings into the space; children can interact with the light, imagining themselves with their own fairy wings.

Denise DiPiazzo of Red Trike Studios built a icy cool house bisected by a tunnel.

Kelly Cook and George Berry created a Fairy Outpost, using many found and natural materials.  I love the addition of community chalkboards!

LaMair Design Studio, Inc. built a pyramid from recycled wood, peeled log poles and translucent plastic "jewels" that filter soft light into the interior.  

 And Norwegian Wood built a fort that hides in plain sight...from mirrored safety glass.  The top of its tower has a giant periscope for viewing the treescape, and there are small holes in the glass for spy viewing.  

[All photos of these great projects are via the Powell Gardens website; I couldn't find website information for the project designers.  If you have them, please let me know!  First found at the Architect's Newspaper blog.]

Monday, June 18, 2012

Boys Underwear - Fashion Plus Comfort!

Wearing fashionable underwear with perfect fit not only ensures comfort but also adds to your overall looks. Talking about beauty here does not imply that it is meant only for girls and women; even boys underwear has to be perfect yet fashionable that makes them look cool and handsome. Today, be it boys or girls, everyone loves to wear sexy lingerie from renowned brands, as it completes one's fashion statement. Low waist jeans with branded underwear are in vogue among boys. Owing to increased demand and craze among today's generation, Calvin Klein, Spanx, Fruit of the Loom and many other brands have launched their collection of undergarments for both men and women. These designer underwears spell fashion plus comfort.
There was a time when underwears were meant for wealthy men only, because it was very expensive then. But now it is a necessity for a common man and more of a fashion garment for the modern men. It became affordable for people in the 18th century, as linen was introduced at reasonable prices. Linen was also preferred for boys underwears because of being comfortable. Thereafter, a lot of transformation was seen in boys underwear.

Underwear for boys does not differ much apparently from men's underwear, but there is a difference of sizes and styles. Usually, boys underwear used to include briefs and shorts. But now numerous categories are added for briefs as well as for shorts. Now boys can find not only casual briefs but also sports briefs, boxer briefs, hip briefs and many more as their underwear. Muscular men prefer to wear briefs with specific cuts that enhance their assets. Similarly, there is a wide range of boys underwear in sports category. These underwears are tailor-made with particular fabric and cuts as per the requirement of specific sport. Made with high performance quality fabric, such underwears provide ample space for ventilation and manage the moisture well. The micro-fibers used provide perfect stretch while working out in a gym or playing a sport. The entire collection of boys underwear is prepared keeping the spectrum of usage in mind. Even for the boys, their underwears are designed specially keeping their active nature in mind.
The changing trends have brought modifications not in the style but in the fabric of boys underwears. For swimming purposes, underwears for men are made mainly with nylon. Besides nylon, underwears for men are made with lycra, elastene, Polyamide, etc. At any point of time, cotton is still the first choice of people. Men's underwear stores are flooded with all sorts of underwears. They are available in various sizes, colors, patterns and designs in these stores. Colors may range from basic neutral shades to vibrant hues. Patterns can also vary from common checks and stripes to cartoons and super heroes. One can pick up these underwears according to his size. Plus sizes or XXL are also available for obese or people who are on heavier side.

Many of the clothing brands have launched their collection of men's underwear and sexy lingerie. These brands introduce their collection of designer underwears every season. Available in wide range, their collections always offer fresh styles to the customers. What's more! They are designed and tailor-made to an extent that it fits perfectly to anyone, as the material used is stretchable in nature. There are reversible underwears also.
The most advantageous part of these branded undergarments and sexy lingerie is quality of the fabric used. High quality fabric prevents infections and allergies caused by the undergarments. Any compromise can lead to serious effects. Additionally, these branded undergarments are prepared with utmost care after testing the fabric for various quality tests.
The stores of these popular brands are available all across the globe. But still there is an option for online shopping. If you are also looking for some sexy lingerie and boys underwear, then you can browse web and look at the designs and options offered by various brands. Most of them have online presence. You can browse their official sites and check out their catalogues. Add your favorite stuff to your shopping cart and later you can purchase them online only. Place your order from the comfort of your home and get the delivery at your doorstep.

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Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces (with vintage Adventure Playgrounds), William Whyte, NYC, 1980

William H. Whyte - Social Life of Small Urban Places from Robin van Emden on Vimeo.

William H. Whyte's film "The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces" is an urban planning classic.  Whyte moves through the mid-century plazas of New York City in a direct, shoe leather observation of why some spaces work, and some don't; complete with old school charts and graphs.
You really should watch the whole thing (it's 58 minutes)--the architecture and people are a delight--but pay particular attention to the footage of Harlem street play and kids in an adventure playground, at 1:30 - 2:40, and Whyte's surprising observation that the playground space was actually under, not over, utilized.

Every designer of outdoor space should be required to watch Whyte's discussion of the characteristics of a good bench, and many of his observations apply to playgrounds just as well as plazas:

"The number one activity is people looking at other people, but it is a point that is overlooked in many many designs"

"Visual enjoyment (of a site from the street), this secondary use, is every bit as important as the primary use." 

"The 'corner' is a sociable space."

"People don't like to talk in the middle of a large space.  They like to find places like steps, edges, flagpoles."

"The places that people like best are those which open to the action but are slightly recessed, slightly protected. You get a caving feeling.  Just a few honey locusts overhead will do it." 

"To make a place like this work, you must unfence it!"

Read more about William Whyte at the Project for Public Spaces

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Real Stuff on the Playground: Geopark, Helen and Hard, Stavanger Norway, 2008

'Real Stuff' like gears, planes, and fire trucks were once common on the playground, but have regrettably fallen into disuse.  However, there is no more complete example of a 'Real Stuff' playscape than the quite recent Geopark in Stavanger Norway by Helen and Hard

"Utilising a vacant forecourt adjacent to the Oil Museum as the site for the new park, we drew from three different local resources in the design process: first, the geological and seismic expertise of the oil industry, second, technology and materials (including waste) related to the production of oil, and third, the ideas of local youth groups for the programming of the new park."

The layout of the park is based upon the geologic layers of the Troll field, Norway's most valuable oil and gas reservoir, making visible at 1:500 scale the geologic strata hidden 2000 – 3000 metres below the seabed. The topography of the park is based on the geological layers, the “strata”, of the Troll field, reconstructed in a scale of 1:500, with layers partially peeled away to create the park's slopes.  The strata are cleverly delineated by the different colors of the surfacing in the park with black representing the oil basin.   

Workshops conducted with youth groups defined the functions of each sedimentary layer:  biking, climbing, exhibition, concerts, jumping, ball play and chilling-out. The oil basin became a skating park complete with drilling wells, and geologic folds were expressed as graffiti-allowed walls.


The final phase of the park was to create its surfaces and features using recycled and reshaped elements from petroleum installations, the abandoned Frigg oil platform, offshore bases, equipment suppliers and scrap heaps.

The Geopark has turned a formerly abandoned site into an active social space, and is so popular that its originally planned year-long presence has turned into an ongoing (and hopefully permanent!) one...truly an amazing space made of 'real stuff'.   

[All photos via Helen and Hard.  Submitted by Norwegian reader Magnus last fall...thanks Magnus!  For those of you who submit please remember that I love hearing from you but it can take a while for things to appear on the blog!]

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Interactive Pavements for Interactive Playgrounds

As playgrounds like other architectural constructs move toward embedded interactivity, things like the ipavement will host the next generation of playground games.  The goal of its founders is to turn city streets into information platforms; and they sport Bluetooth and Wi-Fi along with their own operating system, apps, and sensors. 

"Each stone measures 40 x 40 x 7 centimeters (15.75 x 15.75 x 2.76 in), weighs approximately 24 kilograms (53 lbs), and contains a 5 GB microprocessor that communicates with nearby mobile devices via WiFi and Bluetooth. Power and internet access are supplied to each stone via a hard-wired 1,000-watt cable." [gizmag]

image from pavegen
which is cool but it seems obvious to try to combine the idea with that of the electricity generating tiles like those from pavegen rather than using a hard-wired cable.

And in fact the company Powerleap is currently developing just that, a tile that uses footfall energy to power embedded wireless transmitters. 

image from powerleap

These technologies are especially interesting for the playground because the power in a playground 'footfall', say at the bottom of a slide, is much greater than that of a mall-strolling 'footfall'' more like say, the heavy footfalls used to generate energy by sustainabledanceclub

image from sustainabledanceclub
I've felt a little uncomfortable with the playground devices that harvest the motion of a child on a teeter-totter or swing to produce electrical or mechanical power...since they are often advocated for impoverished areas I worry (no evidence of this, just wondering) whether their use could become coercive in some way.   What if a child had to keep swinging to ensure his family's water supply?

 So I like the idea of footfalls (a less controllable event) powering interactivity (a less imperative event) on the playground.  Interested in your thoughts. 

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Benches from Found Materials by Bankinzicht

When you're designing your playscape, don't neglect the hardscape that can make the space feel comfortable, permanent,  and settled into its site.  Always question whether a fence is truly necessary (often it isn't), or whether another way of providing 'boundary' is more useful and more functional as way of handling the perimeter of your site is to make it a bench. 

I really like the constructions of 'Bankinzicht' from the Netherlands (their site is in Dutch, see an English translation via google translate) by two gardeners who make, among other things, 'natural nurseries' and have a particular predilection for constructing benches from discarded building rubble.

"The seats are for the most part made ​​with materials that were released during the construction of a garden. The foundation usually consists of several layers of gravel tiles. Subsequent layers are stacked in a mosaic structure and supplemented with specific details of pottery, glass, or "found objects". In the pile and brickwork much room is left for planting. Kenilworth Ivy, Thyme and Yellow Corydalis species are fun and add color and scent. It is also possible to integrate the bench with a pool of water or a wooden seat."

I love the way their benches incorporate things like marbles and old pieces of pottery and have plenty of niches for hiding treasures or parking a toy car.  

And note how the circular patterns of the benches at one of their 'natural nurseries' provide for the 'retreat spaces' previously discussed on the blog as a design feature to prevent playground bullying.  Hooray for Bankinzicht!


Friday, June 1, 2012

Kids Yoga in Schools: The Results?

School can be a busy, stressful place for kids. Academic demands placed upon young kids seem to keep growing. Schools across the country are trying to help students succeed by taking out many extra-curricular activities and arts classes so there is more time to focus on core subjects, like math, reading, and science. While this strategy may be beneficial for school ratings and test scores, it might not be the best for kids. Some schools are trying Yoga in the classroom as a way to teach children how to relax, focus, and re-energize throughout the day. The results are positive.

Students who are fortunate enough to practice Yoga during the school day have an overall better attitude. Studies have shown improvements in attitudes towards school and life in general. Many children and adolescents might feel moody or agitated throughout the day without recognizing the source of the negative energy. Yoga teaches students that they don't have to carry all that stress around with them. Students learn specific ways to recognize and release stress and anxiety, resulting in a more positive attitude. Yoga helps by diverting the mind and body for a few moments, allowing students to focus on the breath or the body for a short time.
Yoga in schools also results in an overall improvement in the grades of students. Yoga gives students meaningful breaks during the day that re-focus and re-energize the mind. Breathing is a most powerful tool used by students and teachers to quickly gain more focus and energy. Everyone breathes, but Yoga teaches us to do it mindfully, deeply, and with purpose. When students learn this simple concept, it can produce startling results. Teachers can guide students in refocusing activities before a test, after sitting for a long period, or when students are feeling restless.

The health benefits of Yoga are seemingly endless. Students who participate in Yoga gain strength, agility, and flexibility, which can lead to weight loss and muscle gain. Yoga helps reduce symptoms of a number of common ailments that are often caused by stress, including headaches, digestive issues, and depression. More and more kids are being diagnosed with a variety of attention deficit disorders. Yoga can help reduce the symptoms of these types of disorders by giving students the necessary coping tools. Studies show an overall improvement in the health of students who practice Yoga on a regular basis.

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