The working title of the book I’m writing for Norton about the cultural history of the garden (if I can ever finish it in between the nanotechnology and the business deals!) is The Literate Garden, and so when the nice folks at Monstrum sent me a description of their latest installation The Literate Playground immediately came to mind.
I love that this playscape is attached to Scandinavia’s largest library, and that it represents in its own way a collection of knowledge: five play spaces organized as a ‘Kloden’ (globe) along compass directions for specific locations around the world, with giant creatures (Monstrum’s biggest ever!) that tell the wonderful stories of each place. Each of the five playscapes “contains small fragments and stories about nature, animals, landscapes, geology, culture and much more. The aim is to inspire, arouse children’s and adults’ knowledge desire while creating space and opportunity for play and exercise.”
I will just offer the wee criticism that the playscape has far too much safety surfacing for my taste. Though I understand its low-maintenance and clean-lined appeal in a public space like the one around this library, I sincerely hope that Denmark, with its historical acceptance of risk to achieve the reward of great play, isn’t adopting the over-regulation of surfaces that plagues playgrounds in America. Push back, Denmark!
Also of interest is that the project was funded by the Herman Salling Foundation. This is part of a worldwide trend I’m seeing in which the most innovative and ambitious playgrounds are increasingly funded by foundations who are willing to take design risks that municipalities will not. For a long time, foundations seemed more interested in playground quantity than in quality, and they often funded formulaic manufactured solutions. Naturally, I am pleased as punch to see this change!