-#TBT Timberform Playgrounds, Pruitt-Igoe, St Louis, c. 1961

The infamous Pruitt-Igoe public housing development in St. Louis installed a forward-thinking playscape of timber forms by Paul Friedberg in the 1960s,  though even a great playground couldn’t overcome the political, social and economic stresses that ensured the housing complex’s tragic demise.   My favorite image  is the one that shows the youthful residents appropriating the space by painting the timber blocks.  I think it’s interesting that this graffiti-like intervention was ‘allowed’ in a low-income space; painting the playground probably wouldn’t have been permitted–much less encouraged as an art project for which the housing authority donated the paint!–in a higher socioeconomic setting.

Gaby over at architekturfuerkinder has unearthed an advertisement for the Timberform constructs that proclaims the new creative playgrounds as ‘life-changing’ for the young residents of Pruitt-Igoe, and it reminds me that the role of playgrounds in mid-century urban regeneration schemes has remained largely unstudied.  If you’re a student in need of a thesis project, do get in touch.

I’m grateful that I got to see Friedberg’s Timberform playground in Central Park soon before it was demolished, see the post here, and don’t forget that you can download two of his mid-century playground books–Handcrafted Playgrounds  and Play and Interplay–from the sidebar!

One Response to “-#TBT Timberform Playgrounds, Pruitt-Igoe, St Louis, c. 1961”

  1. Anna F said:

    So interesting, too, that all the “youthful residents” are male…

    August 12, 2015 at 8:56 pm

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