Krabbelknoten (A Mathematical Play Sculpture), Erlebnisland Mathematik Dresden, 2011

From playscapes reader Daniel Lordick of the Geometric Modeling and Visualisation lab at the Dresden University of Technology and the Architectural Representation and Design group at the Berlin Institute of Architecture (great science-art overlaps, there!)  comes news of the “Krabbelknoten”, a crawl-through knot installed at the ‘Math Adventure Land’ in Dresden in 2011.

The play-sculpture, which is sized for either children or adults (and was indeed celebrated by full-size modern dancers at its inauguration), is based on the topological investigations of Professor Ulrich Brehm, also at the Dresden University of Technology, who works on what are essentially sophisticated mathematical knots.  

“A mathematician’s knot differs from everyday knots in that the ends are joined together so that it cannot be undone. It is a closed curve….a surface with two openings but without any edges.”

Which quite naturally makes for an interesting climbing experience in which the child traverses not just any tunnel, but a continuous mathematical function.

The above video is only in German, but non-speakers can still appreciate the extensive mathematical modeling and subsequent engineering that went into making this delightful structure. Further information on the knot’s development and mathematical basis, including interesting details on safety and transport considerations, are available in pdf form.

Topology is an absolute goldmine for new playground forms, well beyond the mobius strip (which is the mostly commonly known topological space). I’d love to see these and many more knotboxes on the playground.  Thanks Daniel!

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