Another playscape I’m thinking about going into the New Year is the Beetsplein playground by NL Architects in conjunction with DS Landschapsarchitecten.  (NL Architects also designed the WOS 8 building, another of the most popular posts on Playscapes).

When I was in New York at the MoMA event, I had this weird conversation with someone from the playground world who asserted that nothing interesting, or innovative, or new was happening in playgrounds.  I countered that playgrounds are finally being seen as landscapes, not collections of equipment, and that in particular the creation of three-dimensional ground planes (known here at Playscapes as playgrounds-should-not-be-flat)  was really changing how playgrounds look and play.   He remained belligerently unconvinced that this mattered, probably because he installs collections of equipment.

But I love how the Beetsplein playground demonstrates that change, and its importance and possibilities.  In placement (a small unfenced neighborhood square) and geometry  (a circle with a thick ring-edge) it feels reminiscent of Aldo van Eyck’s nearby constructs from the mid-century.

But pulling up the edge of the ring, rather than leaving it flat, allows the space around the circle to form grassy hills instead of flat plains.

And warping the ring so that it is taller in some areas and shorter in others allows for the creation of unique playspaces while preserving the ability of the edge to be used as an undulating walking/riding track (way more fun than a flat track).

There needs to be a way to reach the top of the taller portions of the ring of course, and this provides for a range of interesting play ideas.  Simply making stairs bigger forms a grandstand (sited to catch the afternoon sun) that allows for parents sitting, for performances, and extra fun for riders.

In another tall part of the circle a sheer edge becomes a space dedicated to smaller children, with a slide and climbing wall and caves.

The spots where the edge descends become a natural for scrambles to the top, and long low benches also enjoyed by bike riders and skateboarders.

All this play potential, and still plenty of space in the center court for ball play, for which NL’s design is also multipurpose; basketball goals attached to standard lightpoles, and somersault bars (another reference to our Aldo) that also function as football goals.

NL Architects say it’s three playgrounds in one, but I think it’s even more than three, and it’s one of the most brilliant playscapes I know.  All enabled by shaping the ground plane, so that it is Not Flat.


Posted in Contemporary Design

From the Sehwan Oh playground to puckelball, morphing familiar forms is definitely a playground trend. The puckelball pitch was installed in 2009, but it was preceded in morphotasticness by the 3-D basketball court public art collective Inges Idee installed in 2006 at a technical school in Munich Germany.

“A regulation-sized basketball court was erected on the grove-like forecourt of the school building of the occupational school. The court consists of a soft orange-red tartan covering and two normal baskets and seems to be forced over the grid of the lamps that have been set up. The playable court has been “morphed” as in a 3D program on a computer and looks like the grounds of a rollercoaster, with heights and depths and calm and dynamic zones. The resulting paradox, which moves between a normative set of rules and pleasurable, anarchic change, requires creative engagement for its use.”

It does seem to be used more for lounging than playing, but then that’s what the young adult age group for whom it was designed likes to do!   Teens like a hang-out space that has the potential for active play and showing off, but doesn’t necessarily require it, and this is a fascinating way of creating that sort of space.

[all photos from inges idee; found at neotorama]


Posted in Contemporary Design, Design

When work is done for developing communities in developing countries, the projects are often laudable in many ways but the word ‘refined’ rarely springs to mind.  That’s why I am continually impressed by the built environments created by TYIN tegnestue.

After consulting with the local community for over a year, it took them just three weeks to erect this playful two-story frame atop a deep concrete block platform in an empty slot of a dense residential area of Bankgkok. It provides the residents with basketball hoops, space for football, a stage for performances and public meetings, walls for climbing, swings, and seating both inside and on the edges.  “Bright lights, recycled wood panels and patterned orange metal frames create a scaffold-like intervention with graffiti and other dwellings as the backdrop.”  

The precise slatted construction is intentionally designed so that children can climb up and down the walls, reaching small platforms on the second level, a wonderful application of structural playability.   “The main construction´s simplicity, repetitive logic and durability enables the local inhabitants to make adaptations that fit with their changing needs without endangering the projects structural strength or the general useability of the playground.”

All photos from TYIN tegnestue,  project found at dezeen
Also see a previous post on TYIN tegnestue’s Soe Ker Tie House play elements here.


Posted in Contemporary Design


Also in Bingfield Park, behind Crumbles, was an well-designed football pitch: sunken, defined by gabion walls with strong design appeal, and boxy modern seating elements on one side with a curved seating wall on the other.
Designed by architectsnetwork; more photos at their site.
Posted in Contemporary Design