PLAY[ground] for Vivid Sydney, 2015

The international design firm HASSELL recently teamed up with non-profit Archikidz and Sydney Living Museums to create PLAY[ground], a three day destination event in the in the heart of Sydney.  A sell-out crowd visited over three days to swing, climb,  crawl, tunnel, jump and connect.  A free but ticketed event, PLAY[ground] reached capacity before the gates even opened. Six thousand people – including 4,000 children – attended over the course of the three-day installation that was part of the 2015 VIVID Sydney festival.”

“The Archikidz brief called for a single playground. But, after testing early plans with a group of children, HASSELL created a collection of interactive installations to inspire different types of outdoor play. Kids were diving into multi-coloured ball pools, shimmying up ropes, and running through the maze of plants and a forest of multi-coloured ribbons made from old parachutes. Retired sailing spinnakers and timber palettes were given new life as platforms for kids to swing on, climb through, crawl under and jump off.  At the end of it all, everything was repurposed, returned or recycled – accomplishing the ultimate low cost, low impact event at the heritage-listed barracks.”

Great design and great fun, of course, but I love that the goals of this project went beyond “just” play.  The team wanted to “make kids seen and heart in the city”, and in so doing inspire city makers to think creatively about the future of cities:  what makes them great, and what makes them playable.   Too many play advocates just wave their hands vaguely and cry “let the children play!”  But more rigorous and expansive thinking is required to build a playful future, to see play as both an end in itself AND a means that helps us understand and build community.

“The program for PLAY[ground] included a number of free workshops about city-making and the built environment. Kids, families and friends immersed themselves in green wall workshops with specialists, Junglefy, drew their visions for the future city, and experimented with new ways of travelling through the city with parkour lessons.

Kids shared their thoughts about how they would make cities more liveable and fun in the HASSELL ‘Little House: Big ideas’ – a wooden cubby house in the middle of PLAY[ground]. While there were plenty of references to jet packs and robots, many kids spoke about the importance of green space, how living in an apartment allows you to make the most of the city, and new types of environmentally-friendly transport they would like to see ‘when they grow up’.

“The legacy of PLAY[ground] lives on…the green wall created by Junglefy with hundreds of kids and their parents will be installed in its permanent location at Ultimo Community Centre very soon. The parkour equipment has a new home at Pyrmont Community Centre, and will soon become a new location for the boys from Jump Squad HQ to run parkour workshops.”

Collaborators: Archikidz, Sydney Living Museums, Junglefy, Andreasens Green, Design Landscape, Innov8 Access, JumpSquad, Imprint Acoustics
Photography: James Horan, Vin Rathod, HASSELL

Leave a Reply