Plaza Brasil Playground, Santiago Chile, Frederica Matta & Ana Maria Rodriguez, 1993

In 1993, artist Frederica Matta designed a series of 22 play elements for  Santiago, Chile’s Plaza Brasil, all based on the idea of Chilean identity.  The city of Santiago offered spare industrial materials, and Frederica created a series of playground forms–benches, swings, climbable  ‘boulders’ and a volcano slide–mostly executed in concrete, and painted in her characteristic colorful and whimsical motifs.  They are still there over twenty years later; when a standard 90s plastic install would be well past its sell-by date.  The idea that standard manufactured playgrounds are ‘the most durable’ is specious, and should be challenged.   Matta’s work was a very innovative installation for 1993–at the height of the poles-and-platforms era–when deviating from the playground norm took courageous designers and supportive patrons.  Those remain, still, the two essentials for innovative playground design.

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