Modern Czech Playground Design, c. 1960

I’ll post a full summary of the interesting conversations from London Open for Play soon (including tales of those hardy souls who braved a tour of Islington’s regenerated play spaces in the driving rain), but in the meantime it’s back to our regular programming!

In searching for more information on the intriguing satellite-inspired play structure by Zdeněk Němeček featured at the MoMA Century of the Child exhibition I found some fascinating references to a play design contest  “Děti ve městě“, organized in Czechoslavakia in  1960.  Was this the Eastern bloc’s answer to MoMA’s 1954 playground sculpture competition?

The results of the contest, full of space-race references and biomorphic forms taking advantage of new plastic materials, were published in the Czech magazine Tvar a Domov, and are reproduced at the blog expo58, from which all the images and captions in this post are sourced.

I’m particularly intrigued by the one playground that doesn’t fit in either the sputnik-y or  plastic-y modes, a design kit for a modular playground by Viktor Fixl.  It proposes a kit of loose parts well ahead of its time.

And were any of these designs ever realized for Czech playgrounds?  According to the author of expo58, the Nemecek sculpture was not only installed but was restored in 2009, and the sculpture by Olbram Zoubek and Eve Kmentová is intact at experimental housing complex Invalides in Prague.

If any readers have more information on these designs, or copies of the relevant source material, please get in touch!

[image 1: Viktor Fixl: Design kit for multipurpose playground, 1960

image 2: Zdenek Nemecek: functional sculpture Model for playground, 1960.

image 3: Jirí Novák: Functional sculpture for playground, 1960, a special prize in the competition “The kids in town.”

image 4: E. Rebmann: Laminate sculpture for playground, 1959-1960

image 5: Josef Soucek: Carousel, part functional sculptures for a children’s playground, 1960, a special prize in the competition “The kids in town.”

image 6: Unknown author: Plastic model playground, 1960

image 7: Unknown author: Plastic model playground, 1960

image 8: Unknown author: functional sculpture Model for playground, 1960

image 9: Unknown author: Plastic model playground, 1960

image 10: Olbram Zoubek and Eva Kmentová: Functional sculpture for playground, experimental housing Invalides, 1960]

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