I’ve posted a few photos of Cuban playgrounds before, and like other aspects of the island they are at once both past and present, trapped in time. C. 1950s playgrounds have been the most likely future, too, but I’m excited that great new things are on the verge of happening in Cuba! Playscapes friend Chris Wangro is producing an international music festival that will leave something beautiful behind when it packs up and goes home: a contemporary playground for the community. The photos in this post are his reconnaisance of the ‘as-is’ state of play in Cuba: heavy metal swings and teeter-totters (also seen across Eastern Europe) are the playground version of repetitive Stalinist architecture, but some nameless designer was reaching for something greater in the lightning bolts of a constructivist-style concrete basketball stadium. I’m intrigued that at least one of the sites Chris found aspired to be a true playscape: a cohesive designed landscape with benches and lights and nice serpentine paths surround the play equipment. Even in disrepair it seems like a pleasant place to be (and note the vintage car in the back of the photo)!
But most inspirational in thinking towards new places for play in Cuba is the beauty of play as it is found, as children make it themselves, seen against a backdrop of cloudy, ethereal decay. The decay cannot be so beautiful to those who reside in it as it is to those of us who see it from our tidy lives afar, but the play crosses all boundaries of time, geography and even politics in its appeal. It is play-as-hope, play-as-freedom.
[If you’re interested in being a part of the Cuba project drop me an email. Potential funders/providers particularly welcome!]