Unusual playgrounds, or playscapes, show how design can help us create unexpected learning environments in playgrounds. You can’t look at these two places without thinking of the issues that Hanna Rosin brings up in her Atlantic article, “The Overprotected Kid.”
Rosin chronicles how in the 1970s, a few accidents and other media-hyped incidents led to a gradual homogenization of playground and even, to a degree, supervised childhood.
Let’s hope playgrounds like these that emphasize experimentation and alternative thinking will support an arts-influenced experience that draws out elements of science, technology, engineering, and math.
Wikado Foundation playground, the Netherlands
A playground made of recycled wind turbines by Superuse Studios.
kids gain a sense of scale and experience the aerodynamic shape of the blades (both inside and out).
Rainbow Net playground, Hakone Sculpture Park, Japan
This crocheted playground by Japanese artist Toshiko Horiuchi MacAdam helps kids see tensile (stetchy) material as structural and illustrates geometry (not to mention color!). Turns out crochet is one of the best ways to model a hyperbolic shape (according to the Girls Collaborative Project, who crochet coral reef models, and Sara Kuhn who crochets amazing hyberbolic planes).
We should also leave so room for the not overprotected kid, as shown in Rosin’s pictures from “The Land” were kids play happily unsupervised in an area containing a wealth of “source material” that kids engineer into play structures and spaces of their own.
For more inspiring playgrounds have a look over on Playscapes blog by Paige Johnson and check out this Arch Daily article on “Forming Playscapes: What Schools Can Learn from Playgrounds.”
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