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“A machine for thinking and imagining otherwise

The CommPlayground is a space of intellectual exchange and conversation. The idea behind it is to move beyond conventional academic formats of knowledge production (e.g. the seminar, the reading group, the paper presentation) to create a space of intellectual and pedagogic experimentation where it is possible to think and imagine otherwise.

The COMM Playground is organized around 5 simple (& nonnegotiable) rules

THE COMM PLAYGROUND Rules of Engagement

1.- The playground is a space of **play** not of competition
Egos should be left at home or will be confiscated at the entrance

2.- The playground is **flat**
Nobody owns the playground; although it can be temporally appropriated by anyone proposing a game

3.- The playground is a space of **games**
The playground only comes alive through games Games should be fun to play

4.- The playground is a space of **honesty and sincerity**
Bullies are not allowed in the playground

5.- The playground is a **creative machine**
The aim of the playground is to generate ideas, controversies and discussion“
commplayground  ucsd  pedagogy  seminars  conversation  exchange  via:javierarbona  academia  knowledgeproduction  readinggroups  presentations  experimentation  altedu  competition  play  flatness  horizontality  games  honesty  sincerity  creativity  ideas  classideas  lcproject  openstudioproject  rules  egos  playgrounds  fun  bullies  bullying 
15 hours ago by robertogreco
Play Mountain - 99% Invisible
"Noguchi’s model for Play Mountain remained on display in his Long Island City museum until January of 1988. At this point, he was 84 years old when a man from Sapporo, Japan came to visit his Long Island City museum and told Noguchi that he thought he could get one of Noguchi’s parks built in Sapporo.

Noguchi started designing play structures and earthworks for the park with his longtime collaborator, the architect Shoji Sadao. But in the winter of that year, he came down with a cold which turned into a terrible case of pneumonia that ultimately took his life shortly after. Noguchi died on December 30th, 1988, having designed the vast majority of the park. His collaborator, Shoji Sadao, continued to work on it. From Noguchi’s death at the end of 1988, Moerenuma Park took 17 years to build and finally opened in 2005.

“It’s enormous … 454 acres – that’s bigger than Central Park,” says Dakin Hart. “It is kind of an amalgamation, a greatest hits, of all of Noguchi’s un-executed land and playground ideas, in one spot.” It’s this huge green swath of land, tucked into a bend in the river. There are forests of his candy-like play equipment, mounds and pyramids and swooping paths, an enormous conical hill to climb, a huge fountain that cycles through an hour-long water show.

Isamu Noguchi was never able to take in the view from the peak of his creation. The sculpture he’d spent his whole life dreaming about., like a mountain teleported from the wild alien planet of his mind. The one place he ever felt he really belonged. Noguchi wanted us to see the world as if we were visiting for the first time. To move our bodies through space as if the simple facts of gravity and contour were brand new delights. To look around with wide eyes, to feel with outstretched fingers, and imagine infinite possibilities. In other words: to live like kids on a playground."
playgrounds  isamunoguichi  2019  design  alexandralange  dakinhart  landscape 
may 2019 by robertogreco
What It Would Take to Set American Kids Free | The New Yorker
"My trip coincided with the publication of “The Anti-Helicopter Parent’s Plea: Let Kids Play!” in the Times Magazine, a masterful bit of parental trolling whose comment section reached a symbolic two thousand and sixteen entries before it was closed. The dozens of adventure playgrounds in Tokyo offer, as a public amenity, what Mike Lanza (the “anti-helicopter parent” in question) says he created in his private Menlo Park, California, back yard: a challenging and unscheduled place for physical play that is largely free of parental supervision. Lanza is far from alone in believing that American children have a play problem. Take a look at Lenore Skenazy’s Free-Range Kids blog, which is peppered with reports of cops and child-protective services being called when parents leave their kids to play unsupervised. Lanza’s own book, “Playborhood,” describes the kids-can’t-play problem as both a social one and a spatial one. Without broader community support, such back-yard attempts at free play like his are doomed to become exercises in vanity. Look at them on the roof! My kids are more resilient than yours!

The overprogrammed, oversterilized, overprotected lives of (some of) America’s youth are the result of a nexus of changes to work life, home life, and street life that have made bringing up babies into a series of consumer choices, from unsubsidized day care forward. It is the public realm—where the Tokyo playgrounds operate—that needs to change for American children to have unstructured afternoons and weekends, for them to bike and walk between school and the playground, to see packs of kids get together without endless chains of parental texts. Kawasaki City, where Kodomo Yume Park is located, created its own Ordinance on the Rights of the Child, in 2001, which includes an article promising to make “secure and comfortable places for children.”

But independence requires infrastructure. Hanegi Playpark was founded in 1975 by Kenichi Omura, a landscape architect, and his wife Shoko Omura, an English teacher. They translated the key book on adventure play into Japanese and then travelled to Europe to meet with the woman who was their prime mover from the nineteen-fifties on: Lady Allen of Hurtwood. Lady Allen had seen the first such “junk playground” in Emdrup, outside Copenhagen, where it became a refuge for youth then under German occupation. She spent subsequent decades as a “propagandist for children’s play.” In Tokyo, a low crime rate and a society accustomed to community ownership of public space has created, around Hanegi and approximately thirteen other such parks, a city where there is more room for innocent error.

The road to Kodomo Yume Park (which means “children’s dream”) was narrow and winding, and there was no sidewalk for much of the way. And yet it was safe, because the tiny cars knew to look for pedestrians and cyclists, and drove at slower speeds. There were people in the houses and stores along the route, and few of the buildings were more than three or four stories tall, offering “eyes on the street” as well as adults who might be appealed to for help. The neighborhood, like the adventure playground, operated as a safety net, ready in case of trouble but not often deployed. A mother who was camped out at Yume Park with five children, the youngest a three-month-old, told me a story—hilarious for her—that would have been a nightmare for me. Her two-year-old, who had observed his five-year-old brother being sent to the corner to buy bread, decided he could do the same, and turned up at the shop with an empty wallet. I looked around at the protected bike lanes, the publicly funded playground workers, and the houses where people are home in the afternoon. Do I wish that my kids—who are five and nine**—**could roll on their own from school to the park, meet friends, and appear on the doorstep at 5 p.m., muddy, damp, and full of play? I do, but then I think of the Saturdays dominated by sports schedules, the windswept winter playgrounds, the kids hit by cars in crosswalks, with the light. It isn’t the idea of my kids holding a hammer or saw that scares me but the idea of trying to make community alone.

At the adventure playgrounds, the kids build the equipment they need under the hands-off supervision of play workers trained to facilitate but not to interfere. I’ve read the diary of the first play worker, John Bertelsen, who ran the adventure playground that Lady Allen visited at Emdrup. His account of the day-to-day in 1943 sounds quite similar to what I observed in 2016.
At 10:45 am today the playground opened . . . We began by moving all the building material in the open shed. Bricks, boards, fireposts and cement pillars were moved to the left alongside the entrance, where building and digging started right away. The work was done by children aged 4 to 17. It went on at full speed and all the workers were in high spirits; dust, sweat, warning shouts and a few scratches all created just the right atmosphere. The children’s play- and work-ground had opened, and they knew how to take full advantage of it.

The do-it-yourself rule is, to a certain extent, self-limiting, as towers built with simple tools are shorter than those ordered from catalogues. I saw plenty of children up on roofs—the rule was, if you can climb up without a ladder, relying on your own strength and ingenuity, it’s O.K. In a documentary on The Land, a Welsh adventure playground, a play worker describes the difference between risk and hazard: a risk you take on knowingly; a hazard is unexpected, like a nail sticking out of a board. The play workers are there to remove hazards and leave the risks.

Journalism about adventure play tends to emphasize the danger, but these spaces actually need to be seen as exceptionally porous community centers, in which lots of social activities, for parents and children, occur. “Risky play” is a way for children to test their own limits, and because the parks are embedded in residential communities they can do so at their own pace. Hitoshi Shimamura, who runs the organization Tokyo Play, told me that he has sessions to teach parents to use the tools, because their fear derived from their own lack of experience. Kids also need time to ease into the freedom and figure out which activity most appeals to them. If adventure play were to become permanent in New York, it would do better as a permanent fixture in a neighborhood than as a weekend destination. At a temporary adventure playground set up by Play:Ground on Governors Island this summer, a sign on the fence read, “Your children are fine without advice and suggestions,” though legally, children under six had to be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

The “adventure” can be with water, with tools, with real fire, or just with pretend kitchen equipment, allowing the parks to appeal to a broad array of children, and over a longer period of time. What this means, in practice, is a range of activity during days, weeks, or even years. In the morning, adventure playgrounds become settings for an urban version of a forest preschool, where small children learn the basics of getting along outdoors. In the afternoon, they become a place for older kids to let off steam between school and homework; many communities in Tokyo play a public chime at five in the afternoon—a mass call that is it time to go home. On the weekends, Yume Park might ring with the hammers of children, but for teen-agers there are other options: a recording studio with padded walls; a wooden shed piled with bike parts for the taking; a quiet, shaded place for conversation. Bertelsen wrote in his diary,
Occasionally, complaints have been made that the playground does not possess a smart enough appearance, and that children cannot possibly be happy playing about in such a jumble. To this I should only like to say that, at times, the children can shape and mould [sic] the playground in such a way that it is a monument to their efforts and a source of aesthetic pleasure to the adult eye; at other times it can appear, to the adult eye, like a pigsty. However, children’s play is not what the adults see, but what the child himself experiences.

One of my favorite moments in Tokyo occurred late one afternoon at a smaller adventure playground, Komazawa Harappa, a long sliver of space in a tight residential neighborhood, masked from the street by a simple hedge. Three kids fanned the flames in a fire pit; a baby padded about a dirty pool dressed in a diaper; two small boys, hammering on a house, had remembered to take their shoes off on the porch. But not everyone felt the need to be busy. Two teen-age girls had climbed up on the roof of the play workers’ house, via a self-built platform of poles and planks, and seemed deep in conversation. Suddenly, they began to sing, their clear voices ringing out over the open space."
alexandralange  children  unschooling  deschooling  community  2016  infrastructure  parks  playgrounds  adventureplaygrounds  risk  risktaking  hazards  japan  parenting  openstudioproject  messiness  johnbertelsen  kenishiomura  ladyallen  emdrup  copenhagen  tokyo  kodomoyumepark  srg  urban  urbanism  play  lenoreskenazy  hanegiplaypark  tools  dirt  order  rules  mikelanza  supervision  safety  independence  us  shokoomura  diy  risklyplay  lcproject  tcsnmt  sfsh 
september 2018 by robertogreco
Allison Arieff on Twitter: "An awesome new playground (opening mid-Feb), lots of new seating, a herd of giraffes 🦒 and much optimism at Civic Center Plaza today. Kudos to the many people hard at work making this #publicspace work for San Francisco.…
"An awesome new playground (opening mid-Feb), lots of new seating, a herd of giraffes and much optimism at Civic Center Plaza today. Kudos to the many people hard at work making this #publicspace work for San Francisco."
classideas  playgrounds  sanfrancisco  civiccenter  play  2018  tovisit 
january 2018 by robertogreco
Teacher Tom: Our Catastrophic Imaginations
"Awhile back, I was watching a boy playing around under the swings as a classmate was swinging. It wasn't a particularly risky activity in my view. I mean, I was standing right there, taking pictures, discussing it with him, and it didn't set off any alarm bells for me in the moment, although after the fact, while going through the photos, it occurred to me that it was something that would be scuttled in other settings. My lack of concern probably stems from the fact that it's far from the first time this sort of thing has happened:

In fact, I think what caught my attention about it was that it was the first time I'd seen a kid do more than just lie there giggling. Of course, many schools have removed their swings altogether, so maybe the very existence of swings is shocking to some.

I imagine that in some dystopian future we'll become notorious for being the only school left with a swing set, let alone for not having a set of rules about how the kids can use them. That's because, in our six years with swings, since our move to the Center of the Universe, we've not found a need for safety rules, because the kids, the ones that live in the world outside our catastrophic imaginations, haven't shown a particular propensity to hurt themselves or one another.

Oh sure they get hurt like all kids do, like all people, but most of the injuries don't come from what people call "risky play," but rather from day-to-day activities, things you would think children had mastered. For instance, the worst injury we've seen during my 16 year tenure at Woodland Park came when a boy fell on his chin while walking on a flat, dry, linoleum floor. He needed a couple stitches. Another boy wound up with stitches when he fell while walking in the sandpit.

Increasingly, I find myself bristling when I hear folks talk about "risky play," even when it's framed positively. From my experience, this sort of play is objectively not risky, in the sense that those activities like swinging or climbing or playing with long sticks, those things that tend to wear the label of "risky" are more properly viewed as "safety play," because that's exactly what the kids are doing: practicing keeping themselves and others safe. It's almost as if they are engaging in their own, self-correcting safety drills.

When a group of four and five year olds load up the pallet swing with junk, then work together to wind it up higher and higher, then, on the count of three, let it go, ducking away as they do it, creating distance between themselves and this rapidly spinning flat of wood that they've learned is libel to release it's contents in random directions, they are practicing keeping themselves and others safe. They don't need adults there telling them to "be careful" or to impose rules based on our fears because those things are so manifestly necessary to this sort of thing that they are an unspoken part of the play.

When children wrestle they are practicing caring for themselves and their friends.

When preschoolers are provided with carving tools and a pumpkin they automatically include their own safety and that of others into their play. Adult warnings to "be careful" are redundant at best and, at worst, become focal points for rebellion (which, in turn, can lead to truly risky behavior) or a sense that the world is full of unperceived dangers that only the all-knowing adults can see (which, in turn, can lead to the sort of unspecified anxiety we see so much of these days). Every time we say "be careful" we express, quite clearly, our lack of faith in our children's judgement, which too often becomes the foundation of self-doubt.

The truth is that they already are being careful. The instinct for self-preservation is quite strong in humans. It's a pity that we feel we must teach them to live within our catastrophic imaginations."
tomhobson  children  risk  play  risktaking  safety  sfsh  experimentation  2017  schools  swings  playgrounds  injury  care  caring  wrestling  carefulness 
november 2017 by robertogreco
Frontier notes on metaphors: the digital as landscape and playground - Long View on Education
"I am concerned with the broader class of metaphors that suggest the Internet is an inert and open place for us to roam. Scott McLeod often uses the metaphor of a ‘landscape’: “One of schools’ primary tasks is to help students master the dominant information landscape of their time.”

McLeod’s central metaphor – mastering the information landscape – fits into a larger historical narrative that depicts the Internet as a commons in the sense of “communally-held space, one which it is specifically inappropriate for any single individual or subset of the community (including governments) to own or control.” Adriane Lapointe continues, “The internet is compared to a landscape which can be used in various ways by a wide range of people for whatever purpose they please, so long as their actions do not interfere with the actions of others.”

I suspect that the landscape metaphor resonates with people because it captures how they feel the Internet should work. Sarah T. Roberts argues that we are tempted to imagine the digital as “valueless, politically neutral and as being without material consequences.” However, the digital information landscape is an artifact shaped by capitalism, the US military, and corporate power. It’s a landscape that actively tracks and targets us, buys and sells our information. And it’s mastered only by the corporations, CEOs and venture capitalists.

Be brave? I have no idea what it would mean to teach students how to ‘master’ the digital landscape. The idea of ‘mastering’ recalls the popular frontier and pioneer metaphors that have fallen out of fashion since 1990s as the Internet became ubiquitous, as Jan Rune Holmevik notes. There is of course a longer history of the “frontiers of knowledge” metaphor going back to Francis Bacon and passing through Vannevar Bush, and thinking this way has become, according to Gregory Ulmer, “ubiquitous, a reflex, a habit of mind that shapes much of our thinking about inquiry” – and one that needs to be rethought if we take the postcolonial movement seriously.

While we might worry about being alert online, we aren’t exposed to enough stories about the physical and material implications of the digital. It’s far too easy to think that the online landscape exists only on our screens, never intersecting with the physical landscape in which we live. Yet, the Washington Post reports that in order to pave the way for new data centers, “the Prince William County neighborhood [in Virginia] of mostly elderly African American homeowners is being threatened by plans for a 38-acre computer data center that will be built nearby. The project requires the installation of 100-foot-high towers carrying 230,000-volt power lines through their land. The State Corporation Commission authorized Dominion Virginia Power in late June to seize land through eminent domain to make room for the towers.” In this case, the digital is transforming the physical landscape with hostile indifference to the people that live there.

Our students cannot be digitally literate citizens if they don’t know stories about the material implications about the digital. Cathy O’Neil has developed an apt metaphor for algorithms and data – Weapons of Math Destruction – which have the potential to destroy lives because they feed on systemic biases. In her book, O’Neil explains that while attorneys cannot cite the neighborhood people live in as a reason to deny prisoners parole, it is permissible to package that judgment into an algorithm that generates a prediction of recidivism."

"When I talk to students about the implications of their searches being tracked, I have no easy answers for them. How can youth use the net for empowerment when there’s always the possibility that their queries will count against them? Yes, we can use google to ask frank questions about our sexuality, diet, and body – or any of the other ways we worry about being ‘normal’ – but when we do so, we do not wander a non-invasive landscape. And there few cues that we need to be alert or smart.

Our starting point should not be the guiding metaphors of the digital as a playground where we need to practice safety or a landscape that we can master, but Shoshana Zuboff’s analysis of surveillance capitalism: “The game is selling access to the real-time flow of your daily life –your reality—in order to directly influence and modify your behavior for profit. This is the gateway to a new universe of monetization opportunities: restaurants who want to be your destination. Service vendors who want to fix your brake pads. Shops who will lure you like the fabled Sirens.”

So what do we teach students? I think that Chris Gilliard provides the right pedagogical insight to end on:
Students are often surprised (and even angered) to learn the degree to which they are digitally redlined, surveilled, and profiled on the web and to find out that educational systems are looking to replicate many of those worst practices in the name of “efficiency,” “engagement,” or “improved outcomes.” Students don’t know any other web—or, for that matter, have any notion of a web that would be different from the one we have now. Many teachers have at least heard about a web that didn’t spy on users, a web that was (theoretically at least) about connecting not through platforms but through interfaces where individuals had a significant amount of choice in saying how the web looked and what was shared. A big part of the teaching that I do is to tell students: “It’s not supposed to be like this” or “It doesn’t have to be like this.”
banjamindoxtdator  2017  landscapes  playgrounds  georgelakoff  markjohnson  treborscolz  digitalcitizenship  internet  web  online  mckenziewark  privacy  security  labor  playbor  daphnedragona  gamification  uber  work  scottmcleod  adrianelapointe  sarahroberts  janruneholmevik  vannevabush  gregoryulmer  francisbacon  chrisgilliard  pedagogy  criticalthinking  shoshanazuboff  surveillance  surveillancecapitalism  safiyanoble  google  googleglass  cathyo'neil  algorithms  data  bigdata  redlining  postcolonialism  race  racism  criticaltheory  criticalpedagogy  bias 
july 2017 by robertogreco
The Walking Playground – Linda Knight
"Edges are an interesting concept to consider. Do edges exist? Does everything have an edge, even the atmosphere or air? If edges do exist, are they sharp, sudden? Do edges sit alongside each other without space between them? What might be between the edge of an object and the edge of air? Ideas about matter are being reconceptualised and ‘things’ are being thought about less as discrete bodies, but as clusters of forces, what Karen Barad calls ‘transmaterialities’, energy fields of particles moving in times and patterns with lively edges that move back and forth. Barad’s research into theoretical physics exposes how even seemingly inert matter is not dormant or static but consists of particles busily moving and experimenting with possibilities and futures.

These theoretical reconceptualisations around matter enable thinking about taken-for-granted notions of how space, structures and forms can be allocated particular purposes. Playgrounds are static, demarcated architectural sites, however I’m curious about where the edge of a playground sits. Clearly, invisible force fields do not surround a playground so at what point does the playground end?

My work explores the pedagogies that occur in pedagogic sites and how ideas about pedagogy as a human exchange, might be rethought. I also explore the pedagogic in/of the other-than human, including surfaces, light, time, animals, birds, sounds, gestures, shade, rain, and noises. In rethinking where and what is pedagogic, the static playground loses its edges and becomes a series of moving, traveling, multispecies events, shifting locations in unpredictable ways. This project investigates the walking playground through a series of inefficient mappings."
lindaknight  edges  karenbarad  maps  mapping  multispecies  playgrounds  walking  birds  animals  light  time  morethanhuman  human  surfaces  gestures  shade  rain  noise  sounds  sfsh 
march 2017 by robertogreco
Urban Omnibus » City as Playground
"How does the design of your childhood environment affect you? For the better part of a decade, painter Julia Jacquette has been excavating memories of her childhood playground on the Upper West Side. Her family history dovetails with a chapter in New York’s built environment that has been largely forgotten: a “playground revolution” in the 1960s and ’70s. Designers like Paul Friedberg, Richard Dattner, and Jacquette’s own father created innovative adventure playgrounds, child-size cities for imaginative play.

Adventure playgrounds appeared all over New York City, from Central Park to residential buildings and vacant lots. They were part of larger changes in the design and use of the city’s public spaces during the Mayoral administration of John V. Lindsay (1966-1973) that responded to accelerating suburbanization, changing demographics, displeasure with the functionalist environments of urban renewal — in short, a sense of impending “urban crisis.” The playgrounds were meant to make the city more inclusive, more attractive, and more malleable: a place where everyone could thrive.

What happens to a playground when it’s torn down? Many of the playgrounds are now gone, others have been renovated beyond recognition. In her graphic memoir, Playground of My Mind, Julia Jacquette revisits and reconstructs the playgrounds that marked her childhood and have stayed with her ever since. We are pleased to publish an excerpt of Playground of My Mind in the slide show above. Then, Jacquette and writer James Trainor, who is also at work on a book on the city’s playgrounds, explore their childhood memories and grown-up investigations of a critical chapter in the history of New York’s public spaces."
cities  urban  urbanism  2016  jamestrainor  juliajacquette  publicspace  playgrounds  sfsh  glvo  nyc  illustration  childhood  paulfriedberg  richarddattner  sesamestreet  rossryanjacquette  adventureplaygrounds  children  play  aldovaneyck 
march 2017 by robertogreco
The Downward Slide of the Seesaw - The New York Times
"The two young brothers seesawed in Riverside Park recently, testing and tormenting each other, absorbed in a playground ritual familiar to generations of children.

What they did not know was that they were in one of the last places in New York City where they could seesaw. Once ubiquitous in the city’s hundreds of public playgrounds, as they were around the country, the seesaws adults remember have largely vanished from the city and much of the nation because of safety concerns and changing tastes.

The old wooden seesaws that pivot on a central fulcrum have survived in only one city park, park officials believe — the Classic Playground at Riverside Park at West 74th Street. And just north of there, at River Run Playground at West 83rd Street, are three metal fulcrum seesaws that were installed at the community’s request in the 1990s. They are lower and safer, rising only 32 inches off the rubber play mat at the highest point.

The history of New York City playgrounds is intertwined with the seesaw. Charity associations gave seesaw demonstrations when playgrounds were introduced at the turn of the 20th century. They were standard fixtures in the more than 600 playgrounds constructed between 1934 and 1960 under the direction of Robert Moses, along with monkey bars, sandboxes and slides, according to the city parks department.

But federal safety guidelines for playgrounds, which were created in 1981, began to limit their use. The older seesaws were wooden planks that often hit asphalt directly, leading to occasional tailbone and spinal injuries, falls and pinched fingers, not to mention splinters. Children could slam each other by dismounting suddenly. Playgrounds that retained old seesaws were exposed to lawsuits.

Current federal guidelines state that fulcrum seesaws can be installed safely if car tires are embedded under the seats and adequate space is left around them in case of a fall. But they are not recommended for toddlers or preschoolers, and they take up a lot of space. So the reaction to the guidelines in New York City, and many other places, was just to phase seesaws out.

[Photo: "An old wooden seesaw — a long board that pivots on a fulcrum — at the Classic Playground in Riverside Park. Credit Tess Mayer for The New York Times"]

In 2000, 55 percent of playgrounds around the nation had a seesaw, according to the National Program for Playground Safety, which makes estimates based on visits to about 3,000 parks. By 2004, that number was 11 percent. Seesaws were even less popular in schoolyards, declining from 13 percent in 2000 to 7 percent in 2004, the last year for which data was available.

As a result, relatively few playground injuries are now attributable to seesaws. According to data collected by the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission, which sets the safety standards, the top three pieces of equipment associated with emergency room visits between 2009 and 2014 were monkey bars, swings and slides. Only 2 percent of injuries were from teeter-totters.

Yet the seesaw remains paramount in the public consciousness, along with swings and slides, as a playground staple. The universal sign for a playground — the image on a road sign warning that a playground is near — is usually of two stick figures on a seesaw. And seesaws have retained fans.

Among them were parents watching their children play at River Run Playground recently. The three seesaws were in heavy use — parents balanced toddlers on the seats, older children whooshed each other skyward, and one father tried to stand in the middle of the seesaw and balance.

“We’re child-proofing childhood,” said Milanee Kapadia, when told that these seesaws were among the last in the city. One of her 4-year-old twins has special needs, and the seesaw, which requires cooperation and coordination, is just the kind of equipment her therapists recommend. So she comes regularly. “One little fall or a tooth broken and the next thing you know they are out,” she said.

Marissa Dennis watched as her boys Kale, 8, and Asher, 6, slipped off the seesaw and banged each other down as hard as they could. She was nervous, but neither boy was hurt, because the seesaw ends hit tires embedded in the soft play mat.

[Photo: "A seesaw at Blackwell playground on Roosevelt Island has a more modern design. Credit An Rong Xu for The New York Times"]

“I think we have to take the kids out a little bit from the safety bubble,” she said, placing her 2-year-old daughter, Sadie, on a seesaw too.

Traditional seesaws have other supporters, including occupational and physical therapists, who have noted with concern the increasing number of children who have problems regulating themselves emotionally and physically as childhood becomes more sedentary.

“To adults, seesaws might look like an accident waiting to happen,” said Lauren Drobnjak, a physical therapist in Cleveland and co-author of the book “Sensory Processing 101.” But “by rapidly moving the child through vertical space,” she said, seesaws provide input to a child’s vestibular — or balance regulation — system “in a way that no other playground equipment can.” And children learn strength and coordination when they hit the ground and push themselves back up.

“A seemingly simple plaything actually provides so many important sensory experiences for kids,” she said.

In some places, the seesaw has not gone out of style. A spokesman for the best-known manufacturer of a metal traditional-style seesaw, SportsPlay, based in St. Louis, said that the company still sells “a lot of seesaws.” AAA State of Play, a playground equipment supplier in Greenfield, Ind., said that seesaws remained popular with schools, parks and homeowner associations in smaller towns and cities.

“We actually sold some to a group of people who were in their early 70s,” Nancy Breedlove, one of the owners of AAA State of Play, said. “And I said, ‘Oh, is this for your grandkids?’ And she said, ‘No, we like to go out there and relive our youth and have cocktails.’”

[Photo: "Seesaws in Central Park in 1953. Credit Bettmann, via Getty Images
In New York City, the old fulcrum seesaws were replaced over time by newer styles of equipment, like multilevel structures that integrate slides and climbing walls."]

The main reason was safety. “New York City Parks has not installed seesaws for at least 30 years due to safety concerns,” said a spokesman, Sam Biederman.

But there were exceptions. One was in River Run Playground, which was able to install the metal seesaws in a 1990s renovation because the community requested it, said Nancy Prince, deputy chief for design at the city parks department.

And there have been attempts at more futuristic versions of the seesaw over the decades, such as a standing seesaw at Ciccarone Park in the Bronx that was installed in 2007 but has since broken, and a crescent-shaped modern version at Melrose Playground in the Bronx that remains in use.

Another reason seesaws remain rare is that equipment that moves is very hard to maintain in crowded city parks, Ms. Prince said.

But the seesaw’s fortunes may be on the rise.

Last month, Central Park unveiled its first take on the seesaw in decades — something called a spring rider seesaw — at a newly renovated playground on West 84th Street. At its center are two large springs, which means children cannot plunk each other to the ground. Other city playgrounds have experimented with spring rockers, which move up and down slightly.

Lane Addonizio, who plans playgrounds for the Central Park Conservancy, said she believed the return of an old-fashioned fulcrum seesaw might not be far behind.

“The more we live with the safety standards, the more you see people kind of innovating to bring back types of experiences that maybe for a while you weren’t seeing,” she said. “There’s no reason to think we won’t have traditional seesaws in the park at some point.”"
play  toys  seesaws  playgrounds  safety  fear  2016  sharonotterman  change  children  parenting  childhood  via:alexandralange 
december 2016 by robertogreco
The Midcentury Sculptor Who Changed The Way Kids Play | Co.Design | business + design
"No one doubts the importance of play in childhood development—it lets kids figure out the world in an environment that encourages creativity, movement, and socializing. Swing sets teach kids about momentum, slides about gravity, monkey bars about coordination. Some of the cutting-edge playgrounds of today even experiment with movable objects to get kids collaborating and thinking like designers.

But playground design wasn't always so diverse. For that we can thank, in part, Jim Miller-Melberg, an artist who rebelled against conventional playground design, creating climbable, abstract sculptures that changed how a generation of kids played.

Miller-Melberg is one of dozens of designers featured in Michigan Modern: Design that Shaped America (Gibbs Smith, 2016), a new book edited by Amy Arnold and Brian D. Conway that charts how practitioners who lived, worked, or were educated in the state influenced the country as a whole. In many ways, Michigan is the cradle of modernism in America: Henry Ford shaped how we get around and how factories manufactured products. Architect Albert Kahn and his brother, engineer Julius Kahn, revolutionized how we build by inventing reinforced concrete and constructed the first structures with the material in Detroit. A generation of midcentury modernists cut their teeth at Cranbrook and created furniture that revolutionized the way we live.

Miller-Melberg, meanwhile, designed a new way to have fun.

Born in 1929, Miller-Melberg was introduced to sculpture as a child via his patternmaker father's workshop in Detroit. There, he experimented with metal and wood and eventually became a journeyman patternmaker by the time he graduated college. After brief stints at Wayne State University and the University of Michigan, he decided to pursue independent study and traveled to Europe where he scoped the studios of artists Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth, and Bernard Leach. The early sculptures he made were carved from wood, but he eventually cast large-scale bronze pieces before moving on to more utilitarian objects—like his play forms, which would become iconic.

In 1961, Miller-Melberg founded Form, Inc., a company that designed and manufactured "sculptures for play" made from molded concrete. (He also made park benches and furniture.) These included slides that looked like abstract saddles; climbable forms reminiscent of double helixes found in DNA; cylindrical towers and wavy walls with cutouts.

He spoke about how he developed pieces for an environment of play in a 2014 interview with design writer Debbie Millman, which is published in the book:
I grew up in the country and we always had a garden, had a little stream going through our property, glacial rocks in the stream, and we would jump from one to the other. But it was an environment for play. When I started designing, swings and slides were about it. I think kids love to swing and slide, but the emphasis is on individual activity. What I was trying to get across was to provide an environment to play together.
Miller-Melberg wasn't alone in his "playscapes" approach. Designers like Isamu Noguchi and the Smithsons experimented with abstract forms.

But what made a difference is the widespread adoption of Miller-Melberg's work. Cities across the country latched on to his philosophy. He had contracts with San Diego and Los Angeles to furnish their public parks with his play forms. His turtles can be found in Golden Gate Park, in San Francisco. He built a special concrete basketball hoop stand for Miami-Dade County parks, which were resilient in the region's salt air; now the hoops are all over the country. In researching the book, Arnold and Conway discovered the sculptor's work installed as far away as Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.

Miller-Melberg manufactured his products until selling the company in 1981 to Wausau Tile, a Wisconsin-based fabricator of architectural products; to this day, it still sells Miller-Melberg's park furnishings.

"Jim’s play sculptures represent a broader movement to incorporate art into daily life," Arnold says. "It was thought that if children were around art and design, they would gain a strong appreciation for it that would carry over into their adulthood and shape the choices they made. That was the beauty of Modernism, it was all about 'better living' and making a better world. Jim has said that what he tried to do with his play sculptures was to provide an environment where children could be creative and put their imaginations to use—the possibilities were limitless. He likened them to playing on natural rock formations. The plastic, primary colored play structures of today are not very inspiring."

Arnold and her team included Miller-Mellberg in the book partly out of nostalgia, and because of the personal connection they had with his designs—a sentiment that reinforces the broad, sweeping impact Michigan designers had.

"The baby boomers working on the book remembered Jim’s work, which appeared in playgrounds, school yards, parks, and malls across America throughout the 1960s," Arnold says. "When we started the Michigan Modern project, we had no idea Jim was from Michigan. A colleague had found a copy of a 1960s Play Forms catalog, and when we saw Jim was from South Lyon, Michigan, we were thrilled. It supported our claim that Michigan designers shaped the modern America lifestyle.""
children  play  playgrounds  sculpture  parks  jimmiller-melberg 
october 2016 by robertogreco
Dream cities: the New York that never was, the playgrounds we don't have.
"And finally: How many people sent me this article from the New York Times Magazine on "the anti-helicopter parent"? Many many, including my own father. What is he trying to tell me? It's a masterful troll, but one which, unfortunately, leaves out much historical and contemporary context on the role of playgrounds in urban life.

As it happened, the day it popped up online, I happened to be visiting one of Tokyo's dozens of adventure playgrounds, which offer all the community, risk and autonomy of Mike Lanza's Menlo Park backyard, without the misogyny, gender stereotypes and high price. At the adventure playgrounds, the kids get to make the equipment they need, under the hands-off supervision of play workers trained to facilitate but not interfere. Rather than emphasizing only risk (though I saw plenty of children up on roofs), the adventure playgrounds are open for all kinds of play: with water, with tools, with real fire and pretend kitchen equipment. Articles on adventure play tend to emphasize the danger, but these spaces actually need to be seen as exceptionally porous community centers, in which lots of types of social activities, for parents and children, occur. One playworker told me he had sessions for parents in how to use tools, because their fear derived from their own lack of experience.

For there to be a real revolution in American children's lives, leading to greater independence, it can't come down to individual consumer choices and Lanza's mom-shaming. Independence requires a whole infrastructure of changes, from protected bike lanes to publicly-funded playground workers, to eyes on the street in the afternoon to less homework. Did I wish my kids could roll, on their own, from school to the park, meet friends, and appear on the doorstep when the clock chimed five, muddy, damp, full of what they played? (There are literal chimes at 5 p.m. in Tokyo.) But one sanitized backyard, in one of the wealthiest towns in America, won't make that happen. It's going to take a village, public funding, and broad cultural change."
alexandralange  parenting  adventureplaygorunds  playgrounds  publicspace  tokyo  japan  children  play  cities  mikelanza  menlopark  2016  adventureplaygrounds  learning  fear  risk  risktaking  communitycenters  lcproject  openstudioproject 
october 2016 by robertogreco On Adventure and Play
"Recompiling a list of a few resources on Adventure Playgrounds as it has recently come up in conversation."
play  playgrounds  adventureplaygrounds  adventure  children  parenting  society  thomassteele-maley 
july 2016 by robertogreco
Extraordinary Playscapes - Boston
"This national exhibition and education program explores the latest thinking in playground design while presenting how vital free play is to childhood development, thriving communities, and social equity.

What we learn through play impacts our physical, mental, social, and creative health — and designers, architects, and play advocates are taking notice. Extraordinary Playscapes examines the art, history, science, and importance of play, while telling the story behind some of the most incredible play spaces in the world.  Featuring over 40 international playgrounds, drawings, sketches, videos, scale models, and playable installations, the interactive exhibition examines the importance of play and the latest thinking in playground design. From towering treetop paths to hand-knit crochet playgrounds, visitors will discover how architects and designers worldwide are engaging diverse communities to translate play objectives into state-of-the-art and meaningful environments."
playgrounds  exhibits  exhibitions  2016  play  children  design  education  learning  architecture  landscape 
june 2016 by robertogreco
Inclusive on Vimeo
"Learn how human-led design makes a deep and connecting impact, leading to innovative and inclusive solutions.

Learn more at

Catharine Blaine K-8 School
Susan Goltsman - MIG, Inc
Will Lewis and Ted Hart - Skype Translator
TJ Parker - Pillpack
Graham Pullin - University of Dundee
The High School Affiliated to Renmin University Of China (RDFZ) Beijing
Jutta Treviranus - OCAD University
Mike Vanis - Interaction Designer"
inclusion  inclusivity  microsoft  via:ablerism  2015  design  catharineblaine  susangoltsman  willlewis  tedhart  tjparker  grahampullin  juttatreviranus  mikevanis  video  documentary  audiencesofone  sewing  aging  retirement  work  ambientintimacy  memory  nostalgia  presence  telepresence  inclusivedesign  technology  translation  healthcare  prescriptions  playgrounds  seattle  sanfrancisco  captioning  literacy  communication  hearing  deaf  deafness  skype 
june 2016 by robertogreco
The Playground Project | Art & Education
"Until the 1980s—and in rare cases until today—playgrounds were places for social experiments, risky projects, and spectacular sculptures. Architects, urban planners, artists, parents, and children were invited to leave their comfort zone and to venture something new. Curated by Gabriela Burkhalter, The Playground Project at Kunsthalle Zürich brings many of these exemplary, but nowadays forgotten initiatives, pioneering acts, and adventures back, and installs three playgrounds for children to run, hide and climb. May our cities invent new playgrounds!

The place and the idea of the playground also raises questions about the relationships between different generations. The experiences, memories, and stakes of our changing lives and times do overlap at the climbing poles and sandpits: toddlers’s games, youth folly, parental worry, grandparental bliss…The playground blends together what elsewhere seems restricted to succession. Therefore, the theory and educational program of The Playground Project focuses on joint activity: A room full of things to design your own playground, physical excitement at our monthly yoga classes in the exhibition, public guided tours about the playground’s own biography, and a look behind the scenes of playground production and discourse at a day-long symposium with international guests.

The symposium “Free and daring! Play(grounds) as a place of identification, community, and disorder in the city” takes place on Friday, April 22 from 9:30am to 6pm at Kunsthalle Zurich, and gathers activists, designers, and researchers to discuss and define the conditions for autonomous, free, and daring play within urban space. What does the creation of places that challenge kids require? And what must be the contribution of the given community towards it?

With Gabriela Burkhalter (curator of the exhibition, Basel), Marion Ebert (activist, Kinderbaustelle Biel), Tim Gill (activist, author, scholar, London), Axel Fischer (Head of Maintenance Grün Stadt Zürich), Sven Goebel (Pro Juventute, Divisional Manager “Free Space and Participation,” Zurich) and Petra Stocker (Pro Juventute, Project Coordinator “Play and Social Space,” Zurich), Karl Guyer (Director GZ Wipkingen), Alberto Nanclares da Veiga & Manuel Polanco Pérez-Llantada (Basurama, artist collective, Madrid), Helle Nebelong (landcape architect, Copenhagen), Sam Roth (Director open youth work Wattwil/Project Coordinator Kinderbaustelle Wattwil), Sreejata Roy (artist/pedagogue, Delhi), Xavier de la Salle (Group Ludic, artist collective, France), and others.

Entry: 50 CHF / 30 CHF members / 15 CHF reduced (incl. exhibition ticket), final panel discussion free

More information, detailed program and registration here.
For more information on the exhibition and full artist list please click here.
For dates and more information on other public programs please click here.

The exhibition is accompanied by a comprehensive catalog: The Playground Project, edited by Gabriela Burkhalter, with contributions by Daniel Baumann, Gabriela Burkhalter, Vincent Romagny, Sreejata Roy, and Xavier de la Salle, German/English, Kunsthalle Zürich/JRP|Ringier 2016

Preview: RATZ FATZ ZAUBER WAS – Fairs and Fairy Tales
a project by Luca Beeler, Cedric Eisenring, and Carmen Tobler
Liste Art Fair Basel, June 14–19, 2016
Children’s books are narratives brought into nurseries by parents. Yet those books also transgress the protected private space towards a broader social sphere. Children’s books carry a peculiar set of expectations and aspirations: romantic ideas of the primordial, the “childishly naive,” as well as enlightenment models of education, or the discovery of the child as utopian matter. RATZ FATZ ZAUBER WAS – Fairs and Fairy Tales presents the stories and didactics of numerous examples, from the historical avant-gardes until today. At Liste Art Fair Basel the collection takes shape as a group of sculptural beings out of whose bellies the books are to take. Each day at 3pm special guests will read from their favorite examples.

Luca Beeler (*1985) lives in Zurich and works as a curator. From 2012 until 2014 he ran the art space Muda Mura Muri together with Lorenzo Bernet and Yannic Joray. Cédric Eisenring (*1983) is an artist living and working in Zurich. Carmen Tobler (*1985) is a book designer (a.o. Studio Marie Lusa) and works at Galerie Gregor Staiger in Zurich. Together they run the publishing house Bleach.

Kunsthalle Zürich is regularly supported by:
Stadt Zürich Kultur, Kanton Zürich Fachstelle Kultur, LUMA Foundation, Whale Foundation.

The exhibition is supported by Ernst Göhner Foundation and Graham Foundation."
playgrounds  children  play  lucabeeler  adventureplaygrounds  cities  architecture  urban  urbanism  urbanplanning  gabrielaburkhalter  art  design  timgill 
april 2016 by robertogreco
Co-Creating Playable Street Furniture To Bring Play + Exercise To The Sidewalk. | Public Workshop
"Client Community Design Collaborative and Get Healthy Philly
Location Philadelphia
Year 2015

In the summer of 2015, working with our clients The Community Design Collaborative and Get Healthy Philly, through the support of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, we led a participatory design-build process exploring what happens when play and exercise spill beyond a playground, becoming part of the sidewalk, neighborhood and business corridor. Public Workshop co-designed and fabricated three different scales of prototype play structures with many hundreds of youth, community members, Collaborative volunteers, Get Healthy Philly staff and others. Developed around and in conjunction with our min-park and vacant lot playground project with People’s Emergency Center, these structures—a Fort-Gym, Switchback Bench and Balance Beams—were then installed along the Lancaster Avenue business corridor. The design of the Fort-Gym additionally morphed based off of feedback and use by local residents as well as during Design Philadelphia, when all three structures were temporarily moved to Smith Memorial Playground. The responsive design-build approach to the process meant that many hundreds of people were not only exposed to and felt ownership of this innovative project, but developed new building skills as a result. Indeed, throughout the process, play and design often spilled well beyond the mini-park and onto the sidewalk and street, occasionally slowing down traffic and causing spontaneous dance parties, games and community pull-up contests. The project was truly unique in the diversity of participants who contributed to and became stakeholders in the project–ranging from seven year olds and nearby business owners to drug dealers who made sure the benches were taken care of on the struggling business corridor. In January 2016, Get Healthy Philly, working with the Community Design Collaborative and Public Workshop, surveyed Philadelphia non-profits to find a home for the second Switchback Bench while also assessing demand for playful street furniture throughout the City. To date, over 40 organizations have applied to adopt the Bench, demonstrating a much larger need. Working with our clients and community partners, we will explore how the Switchback Bench might be expanded into a micro-industry under Tiny WPA‘s Building Hero Project. In this scenario Tiny WPA and Public Workshop staff will train and pay local Building Heroes to fabricate Switchback Benches, hopefully not only meeting apparent market demand but also allowing the team to bring play and exercise to the entirety of Lancaster Avenue by building and installing them throughout. We believe this will be an important prototype process and project leading to the development of a wide variety of different types of Building Hero fabricated street furniture that invite play and exercise."
publicworkshop  furniture  playgrounds  sidewalks  play  2015  alexgilliam  tinywpa  philadelphia 
february 2016 by robertogreco
Playworkers, Ph.Ds, and the Growing Adventure Playground Movement | Atlas Obscura
"More and more people are considering a new degree: Ph.D in Playwork.

Why? Because children’s play has lost its way. Across the world, according to a pair of academics, adults have become stifling and engineering, domineering and overcalculating in their oversight of how kids bide their time. Urbanization has certainly played a role, limiting “playgrounds” to rigid metal structures lacking the magical potential of backyards, fields and forests. But parenting trends have also been moving in an increasingly hands-on direction, influenced in part by practical concerns such as safety and bullying, but also by a hungry desire for measurable results and a general distrust of children’s abilities to teach themselves—to control the content and direction of their own play, whether it involves crayons or saws.

Morgan Leichter-Saxby and Suzanna Law are working on PhDs in Playwork at Leeds Beckett University in the UK, which recently appointed the world’s first Professor of Playwork. Their PhD adviser, Dr. Fraser Brown, describes playwork as “non-judgmental, non-directive and largely reflective.” The “three Frees” of play require that it be freely chosen, free of charge, and that children must be free to come and go as they please.

Adventure play can take a variety of forms, ranging from natural spaces with treehouses and twine forts reminiscent of Huck Finn or Pippi Longstocking, to dump-like playgrounds filled with old tires and plastic junk, to temporary arts and crafts gatherings. One of the most critical components of adventure play are playworkers, a group of trained staff who are able to trust the children and watch their progress and learning, adults who guide, monitor and support without intervening.

Leichter-Saxby and Law are currently on a six-country world tour promoting Pop-Up Adventure Play, an organization they founded in 2010. Registered as a charity, Pop-Up Adventure Play functions under the belief that “children have the right to play as they please, and that a place that supports children’s play benefits everyone.” It doesn’t seem like a revolutionary concept, but some are realizing that in some ways, it is. The values behind adventure play have caused a growing number of adults to recognize the ways in which they are constricting children’s creativity.

When Leichter-Saxby came across her first adventure playground, she says “the vibe was like nowhere else on earth.” She and Law became play rangers, a type of playwork which involves bringing play into play-deprived communities. The more work they did, the more they felt that this was something that America really needed.

With Pop-Up Adventure Play, they wanted to create an accessible model of an adventure playground and provide the basic ideas to get people started. Anyone can access their free Pop-Up Play Shop Toolkit and Resource Pack, and ask for advice on how to get started. There have now been pop-ups in around 17 different countries, temporary projects intended to create momentum for long-term objectives.

Across different countries and neighborhoods, Leichter-Saxby and Law have observed that while governments have different initiatives, the main issues stay the same. “In Bogota, they're saying the militia moved the drug lords out, and nobody knows their neighbors,” says Leichter-Saxby. "In Park Slope, it's concerns about childcare, educational agenda, and testing that are overwhelming parents; kids aren't playing outside, and nobody knows their neighbors. All around the world, there are shared problems of standardized testing, collapsed social networks, a mistrust of public space... From people in wildly different circumstances, you have the same stories about barriers to play.”

The two women have helped to create pop-up adventure play in museums, parks, parking lots, and empty shops. “We meet people where they are, rather than asking them to come to us,” says Law. Adventure playgrounds evolve organically to meet a community’s immediate needs, meaning that no two playgrounds will be the same. It’s a matter of incremental risk and cultivating awareness. “I think a lot of adults today think that they’re afraid of fire and sharp tools with children—but they’re really afraid of letting children do what they please,” says Law.

Erin Davis is the director of a short documentary about The Land, an adventure playground in Wrexham, Wales known for its edginess and unconventional levels of autonomy.

At The Land, children can climb trees and make fires, work with saws and hammers, and very much build their own adventure. The reason this can work is that The Land is a very insular community, and the riskier elements are possible due to the playworkers who eliminate real safety hazards like stray nails, as well as their intimacy and familiarity with the same group of kids. “Something like The Land would not be safe in a place like New York City, where people are playing once, if they’re visiting, or come with a school group for an afternoon,” explains Davis.

Compared to hundreds across the UK and Europe, there are only five or six adventure playgrounds in the U.S. Perhaps the most high-profile for its incorporation of both moving parts and playworkers is Manhattan’s Imagination Playground, established in 2010, which rejects the fixed equipment model and instead offers oversized foam blocks that kids can move around.

“What captured my attention was the idea of playwork, and what it takes for an adult to support play,” Davis says of her time working on the film. “I was definitely reminded how competent children are; they get no credit for being smart creatures—clever, wise, and creative when given the opportunity.”
“It is how children explore and experiment, testing themselves, taking risks on their own terms and discovering how they function—what they like and don’t like—as much as discovering how their world works and how it responds to them,” she says.

England and Scotland have both launched campaigns for children’s play, but in the U.S., playwork has struggled to gain footing. “Ultimately, adult agendas have gotten in the way of adventure playwork blossoming in the U.S.,” says Law. She says Americans seem to prefer the “carefully curated baskets of joy” you get at preschools to the dirtiness and chaos of an adventure playground.

Jeremiah Dockray and his wife Erin Larsen are spearheading Santa Clarita Valley Adventure Play in their community of Val Verde, 30 minutes north of Los Angeles. Dockray came across adventure play in an article from a ways back where adventure playgrounds were described as a parable for anarchy. He thought the playgrounds were extinct, but he found the concept amazing and wanted something similar for their five year-old son. The couple discovered an abandoned park in their neighborhood, saw it was for sale, fell in love with it, and bought it. They signed up for an online class offered by Law and Leichter-Saxby and began started to adopt the pop-up model for outreach to their community. For nearly two years, the couple has been doing pop-up playgrounds at least once a month, as well as working to make some inroads with local parks and recreation officials and public and charter schools, trying to get some adventure play concepts into schools and recess.

Right now, their permanent spot is being very slowly developed. “We’re trying not to head into it so fast that we make something that nobody actually asked for,” says Dockray. “What we’re trying to do is basically get to know as many of the families in the area.” They want to offer a physical and mental space that kids aren’t usually allowed in more regimented environments. “It’s a local idea, to help each other, look out for each other, day in and day out, for kids to come in and work on projects for weeks and weeks, months and months,” says Dockray. “To change the playground as they change—that’s the romantic vision, anyway.”

The community response has been positive, but they’re still navigating partnerships with the official entities and have yet to handle the legal side of things. Dockray says that when you sit insurance companies down and let them see data, adventure playgrounds are often more safe than the “bubble-wrapped playgrounds that they kind of cut-and-paste across America, where kids have a kind of an illusion that they can’t hurt themselves,” he says. “In the adventure play situation, kids can be in such a higher state of play, so focused that they’re in fact very careful, and aware of own bodies and space.”

Playworkers are one of most important aspects of having an adventure playground that truly does what it should, says Dockray, which is one reason that funding is important. They want to create something where people can make a living doing their playwork and helping out the community at no cost to them. Dockray and Larsen are working on several grants and partnerships, though they’re encountering a lot of regulations. Dockray says it’s actually easier to have an adventure playground if you don’t call yourself a playground.

Thanks to the individual efforts of people like Dockray and the support of organizations like Pop-Up Play, playwork is gradually gaining more traction in the U.S. There is now an annual Play Symposium held in Ithaca, New York, though no American universities yet offer degrees in Playwork. Leichter-Saxby and Law are hoping they can jumpstart a “play revolution.”

But it all comes down to the question: Are we willing to relinquish control, and let children direct themselves? "
playgrounds  adventureplaygrounds  children  play  2015  safety  parenting  society  adventure  fear  creativity 
november 2015 by robertogreco
"When I conceived this series of pictures, I was thinking about my time at school. I realized that most of my memories were from the playground. It had been a space of excitement, games,bullying, laughing, tears, teasing, fun, and fear. It seemed an interesting place to go back and explore in photographs.I started the project in the UK, revisiting my school and some of the other schools nearby. I became fascinated by the diversity of children’s experiences, depending on their school. The contrasts between British schools made me curious to know what schools were like in other countries.

Most of the images from the series are composites of moments that happened during a single break time—a kind of time-lapse photography. I have often chosen to feature details that relate to my own memories of the playground. Although the schools I photographed were very diverse, I was struck by the similarities between children’s behavior and the games they played."
jamesmollison  playgrounds  art  photography  education  culture  community  children 
may 2015 by robertogreco
The Value Of Wild, Risky Play: Fire, Mud, Hammers And Nails : NPR Ed : NPR
"Something that's hard for us to accept is that safety, security, is a myth to a degree. There's no such thing as complete safety; it's impossible, unfortunately. But we are interested in being as safe as possible. So that is reflected very obviously in children's culture in America these days. Certainly fear culture is a barrier to adventure play in the U.S. But my sense is that people are growing bored of that. [They are] exhausted by worrying about everything all the time, constantly trying to preempt disaster and enjoying the permission to let go that comes from this adventure play movement."

"Children are an indicator species, in a way. And if kids are stressed out and confined and constrained, they're living in the world we created for them. So really this should really be an opportunity for us to look at ourselves and what we're doing in a larger cultural capacity.

[Q] It's still weird to me that we just don't have more of these in the U.S.

The biggest barrier now is staffing fees. The key ingredient to an adventure playground is a staff that is specifically using a playwork approach to support the kids. You never see a parent at a European adventure playground. But you see parents all over the America play sites.

Another serious barrier is the ugly factor. Junk playgrounds are junky and they don't look cute. They aren't tidy. So for that reason it's a tough sell — even to people who easily get on board with the self-directed and risky play ideas. Of course, that's where the fence comes in. The Land is surrounded by an 8-foot privacy fence that protects neighbors from an eyesore while enabling kids their own independent experiences — playful ones like we remember fondly from our own childhoods."

[Embedded video is here: ]
children  play  society  culture  fear  parenting  danger  risk  risktaking  playgrounds  adventure  securiy  wales  fire  erindavis  adventureplaygrounds 
april 2015 by robertogreco
winter stations convert lifeguard posts into winter playgrounds
"sometimes toronto residents need to be prodded into the outdoors during long winter months. that’s why RAW design, ferris + associates, and curio teamed up to launch ‘winter stations’. the international design competition invited artists, designers, architects and landscape architects to re-image one of toronto’s most unappreciated winter-scapes. using the theme of warmth, competitors were challenged to turn lifeguard stations along toronto’s east beaches into whimsical pieces of wintertime public art. over 200 submissions were received, and the chosen five have repurposed the waterfront into a wintertime hub."
playgrounds  winter  season  toronto  design  architecture  2015  rawdesign  curio  downtime  reuse 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Where The Wild Things Play : NPR Ed : NPR
"There are only a handful of these "wild playgrounds" in the country. They embrace the theory that free, unstructured play is vital for children and offer an antidote to the hurried lifestyles, digital distractions and overprotective parents that can leave children few opportunities to really cut loose.

"It's really central that kids are able to take their natural and intense play impulses and act on them," says Dr. Stuart Brown, a psychologist and the founding director of the National Institute for Play.

Children need an environment with "the opportunity to engage in open, free play where they're allowed to self-organize," he adds. "It's really a central part of being human and developing into competent adulthood."

Brown says this kind of free-range fun is not just good; it's essential. Wild play helps shape who we become, he says, and it should be embraced, not feared.

Some educators advocate "dangerous play," which they say helps kids become better problem solvers.

Patty's Place

In Europe there are lots of these kinds of free-range public playgrounds. They flourished after World War II. Europeans more readily embraced spaces for children to engage in what developmental psychologists like to call "managed risk."

But in the U.S. today there are barely a half-dozen. There are the Anarchy Zone in Ithaca, N.Y., which is just two years old, and a handful of others including a few in New York City.

This one in Berkeley is run by the city's parks and recreation department. It's funded largely by docking fees from the adjacent marina.

But, in many ways, this is Patty's place. "I've been involved here at the adventure playground since its inception — about 35 years," says Patty Donald, the playground's longtime coordinator.

Donald has been on a crusade to promote kid-driven, hands-on play. "A lot of people learn by touching and feeling and doing, and they excel that way," she says. "People drive two, three hours to come here."

Five staff members handle everything from replenishing the zip line's dirt landing zone to facilitating wood-painting and other play activities.

They keep a careful — yet mostly distant — eye on the children and what they're doing. If kids turn in wood with splinters or with a nail sticking out — called a "Mr. Dangerous" — they can earn paint and tools.

"You got it! Yay, Aly!" one staffer yells to a young girl as she makes her way across an old surfboard precariously balanced on a barrel.

The Cellphone Problem

So ... why are there so few of these wild playgrounds in the U.S.?

Fear of litigation is certainly an issue. But there are other factors, too, experts say. Among them are safety-obsessed, overprotective parents shepherding hyperscheduled children, and the fact that in America's cities and suburbs, play itself is in decline.

Donald worries that today's kids are controlled, coddled — and overscheduled. And some parents, she says, are often too distracted. "I find there are a lot of adults who don't know how to play with their kids."

Wait a minute, I ask: What do you mean there are parents who don't know how to play with their kids? I'm imagining awkward, distracted parents, fiddling with their iPhones because they don't get that they can actually interact with their children.

"Probably 75 percent of the parents that come in do that," Donald says. "The cellphone probably is the biggest problem we have. The parents are standing here, they're physically here."

But ... they're not really present, she says.

'Like A Pillow'

"This is awesome; this is a neat little place," says Dave Davirro. He and his 11-year-old son, Nicholas, are in from Hawaii visiting relatives in California.

He says kids need more places like this. "They're tearing down swings in my city," because they're dangerous, Davirro says. "We're way overprotective. I want my child to experience that, you know, there is some danger in everything.""
play  playgrounds  children  2014  adventureplaygrounds  wildplaygrounds  problemsolving  overscheduling  parenting 
august 2014 by robertogreco
Public Workspace Playscape Sculpture Graz | Dismal Garden
"Nils Norman’s Public Workplace Playground Sculpture for Graz, 2009, jumbles our expectations of what public sculpture can be today. Its title and look immediately announce the piece’s contradictory status as a workplace design, combined with the look of a roughshod playground for children, categorized as a sculpture, situated in the midst of a park! What appears striking is the project’s mind-boggling merging of functions (work and play), typological categories (artistic sculpture, office furniture, DIY-construction), intended users (children, business people, recreational visitors), and spaces (public and private). By joining these paradoxical qualities together in a bizarre, composite object, the work enters a utopian dimension by momentarily suspending all social and political contradictions implied by those qualities. But like all good uses of utopia—in contrast to the regressive, nostalgic, escapist versions—Norman’s piece rebounds reflexively and critically on reality by literalizing and exaggerating its ideals.

One important point of departure for Norman’s work—which is informed by the artist’s ongoing research—is the recent reconceptualization of office design within the New Economy (the post-manufacture financial system of globalization based on services and information technology). Unlike older plans for offices—based on cubicles, hierarchical layouts, and privileged zones of access—recent designs of the 1990s and 2000s aim to inspire fluid social interaction amongst workers, engendering cross-disciplinary communication in the name of creative innovation, efficiency, and of course the maximization of profit. The resulting design aesthetic typically emphasizes the flexible open plan (as in loft architecture), which combines uses of space and strategically situates social areas to facilitate exchanges within and between office members that will lead to collaborative solutions to business problems."

[See also: Educational Facility. No. 2. 2008 ]
nilsnorman  2009  playgrounds  playscapes  graz  sculpture  learning 
july 2014 by robertogreco
How the American playground was born in Boston - Ideas - The Boston Globe
"As children’s play spaces evolve, the spirit behind the original 19th-century “sand garden” is on the rise again"
playgrounds  2014  children  play  history 
april 2014 by robertogreco
The Overprotected Kid - The Atlantic
"A preoccupation with safety has stripped childhood of independence, risk taking, and discovery—without making it safer. A new kind of playground points to a better solution."
children  parenting  risk  playgrounds  play  risktaking  safety  education  2014  helicopterparents  hanarosin  independence  strangers  strangerdanger  danger  exploration  helicopterparenting 
march 2014 by robertogreco
'Adventure Playgrounds' a Dying Breed in the U.S. : NPR
"At so-called adventure playgrounds, kids are given hammers, nails, paint, scrap wood — anything they want, really — to make whatever they want. These playgrounds are popular in Europe, but in the United States liability issues have made them a dying breed. Kristin Wiederholt reports on the Berkeley Adventure Playground in Northern California."
2006  playgrounds  litigation  parenting  society  adventureplaygrounds  us  liability 
december 2013 by robertogreco
AI PIOPPI on Vimeo
"Hidden among the trees of an Italian forest, Bruno has been building swings, slides, seesaws, gyroscopes and roller-coasters for the last forty years. They are his passion and a way to attract clients to Ai Pioppi, the restaurant he runs with his family. Throughout this short documentary, his hand-powered toys move alongside his thoughts about existence and death; and why he spent more than half of his life creating rides."
italy  play  toys  aiprioppi  documentary  video  fabrica  handmade  amuseumentparks  playgrounds 
october 2013 by robertogreco
On Adventure Playgrounds & Mutli-Use Destinations | Project for Public Spaces
"Cities are where us “grown-ups” play at leading meaningful and enjoyable lives, so it may be helpful (if anecdotal) to think of playgrounds as the staging areas for the cities of tomorrow. If we want to live in siloed cities, with offices here, houses there, and all quarters safely demarcated by wide arterial roads, we should probably go right on ahead building playgrounds where the slides and plastic tic-tac-toes cower away from each other. But if we want bustling, creative cities full of the surprise and serendipity that makes urban life so enjoyable, we might want to start thinking about playgrounds as microcosmic multi-use destinations.

I think of my favorite public space now, Washington Square Park, and it reminds me, in a way of that schoolyard playground. There are so many different things happening at any given moment: people are playing music, and games, they’re kissing, chatting, taking photos, sunning, jogging, and watching the world pass by. The magic of that park is in its open-endedness, and its mix of these activities. That’s what a great place looks like.

Shouldn’t our playgrounds be great places, too?"
2012  washingtonsquarepark  safety  urbanism  urban  design  adaptability  flexibility  children  playing  play  open-ended  openendedness  cities  playgrounds  openended 
july 2012 by robertogreco
Has Technology Changed the Way Children Play? | MindShift
"Playground culture and children’s games are not overwhelmed, marginalized or threatened by media."

"despite the fears about an untoward influence of media and technology, the researchers found that children’s folklore and children’s imaginations still thrive"
learning  play  ipad  technology  children  audreywatters  2011  games  playgrounds  folklore 
september 2011 by robertogreco
Can a Playground Be Too Safe? -
"“Children need to encounter risks and overcome fears on the playground…monkey bars and tall slides are great. As playgrounds become more and more boring, these are some of the few features that still can give children thrilling experiences with heights and high speed.”

After observing children on playgrounds in Norway, England and Australia, Dr. Sandseter identified six categories of risky play: exploring heights, experiencing high speed, handling dangerous tools, being near dangerous elements (like water or fire), rough-and-tumble play (like wrestling), and wandering alone away from adult supervision. The most common is climbing heights.

“Climbing equipment needs to be high enough, or else it will be too boring in the long run,” Dr. Sandseter said. “Children approach thrills and risks in a progressive manner, and very few children would try to climb to the highest point for the first time they climb…"

[See also: ]
children  psychology  play  parenting  design  safety  law  playgrounds  2011  risk  danger 
july 2011 by robertogreco
The Castro’s Seward Street Slides « San Francisco's Different Faces.
"Hidden up in the Castro Hills, the Seward Mini-Park houses a pair of concrete slides, which are secretly tucked in just off of Douglass Street, between 19th and 20th Street. From what is known, the park and slides are more than three decades old. The area was salvaged by residents from the neighborhood who felt the hills needed a free space for everyone in the community to enjoy. A 14-year-old girl named Kim Clark came up with the idea and won the ”Design a Park” contest. The slides were created by the sculptor Ruth Asawa.

More than three decades later, the double concrete slide still remains somewhat hidden in the mini-park and are appreciated by more than just kids. Adults take on the mission of walking or driving up the steep hills to find a park with more than just grass and benches. They make sure to bring pizza boxes so sliding down the concrete isn’t painful for their tushes and they also make sliding down faster."

ruthasawa  sanfrancisco  togo  playgrounds  history  art  artists  design 
july 2011 by robertogreco
DON'T GO OUTSIDE [In response to “The internet is not our playground anymore.” — Ben Brown]
"All due respect to Ben Brown, but fuck this.

When I was a little kid and would hang out at the playground and the older kids would show up and tell me to leave, I always left. I ran home scared. I hid in my room hoping those kids didn’t see which direction I ran because they might follow me and then they could be waiting for me next time I left. I’d stay in my room for hours freaking out about it.

And then I grew up and realized that those kids didn’t have any more right to the playground than I did and the only reason they had any power over me was because I gave it to them. I told them it was OK for them to boss me around. I gave them my playground.

I’m not making that mistake again. This is my playground and I’m not giving it away to anyone."
seanbonner  benbrown  internet  bullies  play  playgrounds  open  web  online  activism  hierarchy  freedom  equality  self-defense  2011 
june 2011 by robertogreco
Miyashita Park by Atelier Bow-Wow | Spoon & Tamago
"Up until very recently, depending on where you were on the spectrum of social politics, Miyashita Park was either a safehaven for those rejected from society, or a neighborhood blight that is breeding ground for trouble.

But on April 30th a brand new Miyashita Park opened to the public and, despite the same name, it is unrecognizable to anyone who knew it prior to its reincarnation. What used to be home to hundreds of homeless, the blue tarpaulin, cardboard boxes and tents that comprised their dwellings are now nowhere to be seen. What used to feel like a space so far-removed from civilization it felt like a different country, has now, perhaps by force, been integrated into the hip mega-district that is Shibuya. More on that here.

With funding from Nike and blueprints provided by renowned architects Atelier Bow-Wow, a brand new space for the local community, equipped with everything from skating ramps to rock-climbing walls, has been put in place.…"
atelierbow-wow  architecture  urban  parks  playgrounds  play  miyashitapark  design  landscape  japan  tokyo  shibuya 
may 2011 by robertogreco
HORT | better taste than sorry.
"Even the word “HORT” is great. It’s a German word for an after school care center. Why did they choose it?

“HORT – a direct translation of the studio’s mission. A creative playground. A place where ‘work and play’ can be said in the same sentence. An unconventional working environment. Once a household name in the music industry. Now, a multi-disciplinary creative hub. Not just a studio space, but an institution devoted to making ideas come to life. A place to learn, a place to grow, and a place that is still growing. Not a client execution tool. HORT has been known to draw inspiration from things other than design.”"

[Another post on Hort from the same blog: ]

[And look at this, the video that started this whole Hort binge is also on the blog: ]
hort  eikekönig  play  learning  studioclassroom  lcproject  design  education  playgrounds  unschooling  deschooling  graphics  graphicdesign  teaching  tcsnmy  openstudio  multidisciplinary  crossdisciplinary  learningplaces  learningenvironments 
april 2011 by robertogreco
British Library documents a century of playtime (Wired UK)
"The British Library has launched a microsite that documents children's games and rhymes from 1900 up to the present day, complete with a massive searchable index of photographs, video and sound recordings.

Among the collection are documentations of clapping games, marbles, conkers, skipping games, hopscotch, and " pretend play", like cops and robbers, and secret camps.

The project is called Playtimes, and includes information from a number of different sources. There are newly-digitised audio recordings dating from the late 1960s to the early 1980s, which were collected by a lady named Iona Opie as she travelled around the country. Opie made recordings in schools, estates and parks, and among the collection there's also contributions from a number of other individiuals who wanted to contribute to her research."

[Site: ]
play  games  history  uk  classideas  playgrounds  children  language  literature  pretend  exhibitions 
march 2011 by robertogreco
All about playground session in GameCity - uvula
"The overview of my concept has not changed since the beginning of this project. It is to create something that anyone can play with, kids, adults, dogs. But the way 3 years old kids would play is very different from 5 years old. Besides that, who to play with is also a big element that changes the way they play. For example, they would play more safely with parents, while they would play more adventurously with other kids. I designed the equipments considering such things, although I am not sure if my designs fully reflect them. As a result, I think the design has become something very simple and familiar, while respecting the plays which already exist.

Now, I will introduce each of the equipments."

[Now here: ]
playgrounds  design  keitatakahashi  play  competition  children  dogs  equipment  toys  games  gaming  gamedesign  animals 
november 2010 by robertogreco
in the Japanese Embassy of London - uvula
"public place, part of all of our lives, where children & adults can gather & discover something exciting…playground…

I don’t intend to create something game-like, electronic or high tech…what I want most from the park is for it to be a space for children & adults (dogs or squirrels too) to be able to play, although it might be a little bit dangerous…

this might seem harsh, but I think it would be great if we could take ‘video’ part out of ‘video game’. Now the term ‘game’ thought about simply is too restrictive so we could change it further to mean ‘play’. To put it another way, ‘play’ is another word for ‘fun’…

So what is the meaning of the existence of games? Is it merely something for passing the time? an instrument for eliminating stress? a business? Because it is a thing that can make people happy, by playing them, by making them, & even more so, by broadening our perspectives, they can make the world a more enjoyable & at the same time more peaceful place to live."
keitatakahashi  play  games  videogames  learning  experience  nobinobiboy  nobynobyboy  perspective  happiness  well-being  playgrounds  gamedesign  discovery  gaming 
november 2010 by robertogreco
Things We Like: A Veritable Playground Made Out Of Packing Tape. | Public Workshop
"It is a flexible and forgiving, an open system of design, and construction that encourages relentless testing, exploration and collaboration. Very much like our landscape weaving projects (here and here), the material itself is so disassociating to the design-builder that one is likely to drop their conceptions of possibility and the formal notions of space that they have accumulated over their lifetime. We’ve repeatedly seen in our own work how although the final structures may not be permanent, this type of design-build process is incredibly valuable as a piece of a larger learning or design process for getting groups of kids or community members to drop their assumptions and fully, openly explore the possibility of an idea or space."
packingtape  projectideas  architecture  space  structures  play  playgrounds  materials  testing  tinkering  experimentation  exploration  collaboration  design  alexgilliam  publicworkshop 
november 2010 by robertogreco
Diagonal Mar Park - WikiArquitectura - Buildings of the World
"born in sea & forks, as main branches of trees on 2 axes that branch. 1st axis: promenade where flows of people. 2nd: man's life. In turn these 2 lines are different in 7 areas:

* 'Branching of the square:' A walk through flowing where visitors to park, from central to sea & promenade.

* 'Branching of man's children - playground:' human life begins with his childhood...a game marked by a small pond & games for children.

* 'Street Taulat:' The park makes a break down this road, from which they have a stunning view of the new district Diagonal Mar.

* 'Gateway Lake:' A zigzag bridge over the lake & lake at foot waterfalls w/ surprising ways.

* 'The Magic Mountain:' The man moved forward in its evolution towards pre-teen age, playing area w/ slides of sinuous shapes in a large green mountain.

* 'Lake:' wide pond of water, twisting steel sculptures that expel water vaporized.

* 'La Plaza:' The meeting place btwn neighbors & intersection of park w/ city & Avenida Diagonal."
parcdiagonalmar  design  playgrounds  publicspace  space  place  barcelona  spain  architecture  landscape  water  españa 
november 2010 by robertogreco
uvula [Keita Takahashi's new blog]
"We mainly work with music and video games. However we have recently started designing a playground. We want to widen our horizons. So we would be glad to make something new with you. Thanks."
katamaridamacy  keitatakahashi  glvo  partnerships  music  videogames  design  japan  blogs  play  playgrounds  making  creativity 
october 2010 by robertogreco
Rødovre Adventure Playground - a set on Flickr
"Rødovre 'Construction Playground' has existed in Copenhagen since 1964 – and was the second adventure playground to be developed after C.T. Sørensen's historic playground at Emdrup. The playground's story, as we were told during our visit, goes that a local construction crew was working on a building in the area when local children would repeatedly get together and then raid the worksite – taking all the wood and tools to build their own forts and structures. Rather than working against them, though, the construction foreman decided to voluntarily toss some wood scraps and tools over the fence for the children – allowing them to build what they wish without raiding the construction site anymore..."
children  creativity  playgrounds  denmark  copenhagen  play  design  studentdirected 
june 2010 by robertogreco
Pruned: Wetground
"Above is one of six natural playgrounds to be built or already installed in the Netherlands under the fantastically named Mud in Your Pants project. Gone are the plastic fauna, the jungle gyms and their garish paint jobs, the asphalt and the concrete. They've been replaced with real rocks, real plants, real wood pieces, real critters and real soil. Kids will dirty their clothes, scratch their knees, perhaps bruise some bones. These are all good things, as the other option is hours of inactivity in front of the computer or television. A minor infection on a cut or setting the stage for a lifetime of obesity, diabetes and asthma?"

[links to: ]

[related, but not so natural: ]
playgrounds  play  risk  children  outdoors  safety  nature  natural 
april 2010 by robertogreco
Philip K. Howard: Four ways to fix a broken legal system | Video on
"The land of the free has become a legal minefield, says Philip K. Howard -- especially for teachers and doctors, whose work has been paralyzed by fear of suits. What's the answer? A lawyer himself, Howard has four propositions for simplifying US law."
broken  innovation  reform  health  law  simplicity  risk  authority  us  schools  medicine  teaching  learning  education  philiphoward  trust  constitution  values  principles  rules  ted  fear  freedom  lawsuits  gamechanging  fairness  playgrounds  passion  care  waste  money  productivity  decisionmaking  hiring  judgement  paralysis  dueprocess  rights  threats  government  litigation  recess  warnings  warninglabels  labels  psychology  society 
february 2010 by robertogreco
The Serious Need for Play: Scientific American
"Free, imaginative play is crucial for normal social, emotional and cognitive development. It makes us better adjusted, smarter and less stressed # Childhood play is crucial for social, emotional and cognitive ­development.

# Imaginative and rambunctious “free play,” as opposed to games or structured activities, is the most essential type.

# Kids and animals that do not play when they are young may grow into anxious, socially maladjusted adults."
playgrounds  education  children  science  psychology  play  cognitive  cognition  childhood  development  freeplay  creativity  games  tcsnmy 
october 2009 by robertogreco
Spotlight Vol. 8, No. 14: Playing in The Streets - Regional Plan Association
""I love New York City playgrounds, and their virtues are worthy of a completely separate essay. Still, there is a difference between a playground and a street corner. For one thing, playgrounds, with their single gate, always-latched entries and jungle gyms with rubber floors, have become cage-like and womb-like in their protectivity of children from both potential intruders and scraped knees. You have to look elsewhere for truly unstructured play. As luck would have it, my wife and I live in a converted warehouse that has some low-income housing built across from it, fronting on a barren asphalt parking lot. There are children playing in this parking lot often, virtually all of them coming from the low-income housing. These kids, ages two to 15 or so, play in a self-governing universe, without parents. By design or default, unstructured play has become the domain of the less affluent.""
children  play  playgrounds  nyc  via:cityofsound  unschooling  unstructuredtime  parenting  imagination  freedom  learning  playdefecit  glvo  tcsnmy  generations 
september 2009 by robertogreco
30 Classic Games for Simple Outdoor Play | GeekDad |
"When I was a kid, we played outside with the other kids in the neighborhood with most of our free time. We also made the most of recess at school. We kept ourselves quite occupied without any of today’s modern technologies. Listed below are some no-tech games that you may have enjoyed as a kid. I sure did. Some can be done indoors. Some can be done by yourself or with just one friend. But most of them are best when done outside with a group of people. Also, most of these games can be changed or improved by making up your own rules. Use your imagination!"
kids  games  children  outdoors  playgrounds  childhood  culture  play  gaming  parenting  diy  fun  glvo  srg  sdg  tcsnmy 
august 2009 by robertogreco
plsj tumblelog - The capacity of play(grounds)
"Originally designed to cultivate virtue & counteract vice, playgrounds of the past were to complete the discipline of the schoolroom, assisting the trained master to ‘direct’ the child’s thoughts, feelings & actions...the strategy of supervised play was intended to conceal its purpose from the child, with power exercised through discreet forms of surveillance & constraint that would, it was hoped, gradually be embodied and re-enacted as self-restraint. Contemporary longer claim to be directing the conduct of children. Public playgrounds are framed by the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, while commercial playgrounds provide a service to consumers of play. Yet, both unobtrusively act upon the child’s capacity for action & there is a tension between these different modes of provision..article examines this tension and shows how it provides insight into the relationship between power, habitus, and (in)civility today."
children  play  power  control  freedom  civility  discipline  playgrounds 
june 2009 by robertogreco
BLDGBLOG: Mathscape
"But how incredible would it be to realize that, say, your entire city had actually been organized by urban planners two hundred years ago as a kind of inhabitable lesson in mathematics or logical reasoning, like something from the early theories of Friedrich Froebel? ... it would be amazingly cool if the spatial environments of modern life were organized more along educational lines. ... Your every commute to work becomes part of a spatial curriculum, carving out education through space.

One of the questions here would be: could you reverse-engineer mathematical lessons from the environment that already surrounds you? Or do you need to purpose-build pedagogic spatiality?"
engineering  africa  architecture  teaching  mathematics  math  play  planning  learning  design  urban  froebel  inventingkindergarten  pedagogy  playgrounds  friedrichfroebel 
february 2009 by robertogreco
Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation | No Fear
"No Fear joins the increasingly vigorous debate about the role and nature of childhood in the UK. Over the past 30 years activities that previous generations of children enjoyed without a second thought have been relabelled as troubling or dangerous, and the adults who permit them branded as irresponsible. No Fear argues that childhood is being undermined by the growth of risk aversion and its intrusion into every aspect of children’s lives. This restricts children’s play, limits their freedom of movement, corrodes their relationships with adults and constrains their exploration of physical, social and virtual worlds."
freerangekids  safety  parenting  society  fear  children  playgrounds  online  internet  childhood  books  ebooks  sociology  schooling  schools  deschooling  risk  riskassessment  education  culture  health  well-being 
february 2009 by robertogreco
'playground city' exhibition at experimentadesign amsterdam 2008
"with the exploration of the urban landscape and how we utilize our public spaces, experimentadesign amsterdam 2008 will be exhibiting 'playground city' which investigates the role of play within our cities. its the imagination and fearlessness of children which always allows them to find ways to play and entertain themselves in even the most mundane spaces. however, with the growing congestion of cars, buildings and ongoing construction, the city is not always the most inviting or safest environment for them. hence, the importance of playgrounds, a space designed to protect and facilitate play amongst children."
playgrounds  children  safety  play  cities  urban  urbanism  landscape 
august 2008 by robertogreco
GOOD Magazine | Goodmagazine - Fall Down, Go Boom - "Playgrounds have gotten safer, more streamlined, and progressively worse. Now innovators are taking them more seriously than ever."
"When litigation piled up in the early 1980s, the industry responded by raising insurance premiums and adhering closely to safety standards set up by the Consumer Products Safety Commission...But what the new, safe equipment is missing, of course, is the stuff that, according to Moore, makes play fun and crucial to early-childhood development: variety, complexity, challenge, risk, flexibility, and adaptability. So what are the actual benefits of these things? What we know about play is still fairly limited. One study found that the brains of rats deprived of play are less developed than those of rats allowed to carry on normally. Another study found that playing helps build “executive function”—our ability to regulate emotion and impulse. Scientists are also beginning to study the possible link between a lack of play and attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder in children."
playgrounds  design  children  play  innovation  safety  trends  education  parks  health  risk  learning  law  society 
august 2008 by robertogreco
Why Safe Kids Are Becoming Fat Kids -
"no more merry-go-rounds, high slides, jungle gyms, seesaws or pretty much anything that's fun...Risk is important in child development. Allowing children to test limits in unstructured play...develop imagination, dexterity, & physical, cognitive, & emotional strength...According to Center for Disease Control, (child obesity) would basically cure itself if children engaged in informal outdoor activities that used to be do we lure children off sofa? One key attraction is risk. Risk is fun, at least the moderate risks that were common in prior generations...“merry-go-rounds...anecdotally the most hated piece of playground equipment in hospital emergency rooms — topped list of most desired bits of playground equipment.” Those of us of a certain age can remember sprinting to get the contraption really moving. That was fun. And a lot of exercise."
children  health  safety  us  obesity  playgrounds  exercise  play  informal  merry-go-rounds  risk  imagination  parenting  society 
august 2008 by robertogreco
A Playground Where Creativity Can Run Wild -
"At the Imagination Playground in a Box, no fantasy seems too far-fetched. The colorful gear, which arrived at the Brownsville Recreation Center in Brooklyn last week and will remain there through Labor Day, is designed to unleash creativity by allowing c
playgrounds  design  children  play  make  building  toys 
july 2008 by robertogreco
Sweet Juniper! - Upper playgrounds
"It struck me that playgrounds have so much untapped potential for great design. Innovation seems limited to adding things like 4-foot climbing walls and flashy moving parts that inevitably break. Is it possible for a playground to be functional, fun and
playgrounds  design  children  play  isamunoguchi 
june 2008 by robertogreco
Sound in the playground on Pixelsumo
"I’ve been meaning to post these for a while, examples of augmenting sound in the playground…"
architecture  playgrounds  design  children  interactive  audio  computing  play  sensors  sound  music  physical  via:foe 
june 2008 by robertogreco
Snug & Outdoor - The Experimental Playground
"new design of playground has transformed an agressive & bleak environment into a sociable and playful place. Following on from the success of the Experimental Playground Project, our aim was to create a flexible environment for children to play in that t
playgrounds  design  children  play 
march 2008 by robertogreco
STORK BITES MAN: At The Experimental Playground, Ya know
"For one week during March 2000 the grounds at Daubeney School were transformed into The Experimental Playground Project giving all 485 pupils a chance to try out ideas and experiment with the shape and dynamics of their everyday environment."
playgrounds  design  play  children 
march 2008 by robertogreco
Architecture - Children’s Playgrounds - New York Times - review of “Designing Modern Childhoods: History, Space, and the Material Culture of Children”
"compilation of essays, book traces history of veritable toy box of specialized architecture & objects that have molded landscape of children’s private lives...emboldened, coddled, toughened up & manipulated by adults"
books  children  play  design  architecture  playgrounds  space  environment  objects  electronics  schools  schooldesign  lcproject  childhood  history  culture 
march 2008 by robertogreco
Bank-sponsored playground design: how to plot fun from misery
"WaMu, in conjunction w/ non-profit KaBOOM!, is hosting series of Design Days where children can design playgrounds to be built in 10 US cities. Kids, if you need inspiration for shapes of your slides & climbing blocks, look no further than US housing mar
playgrounds  children  design  banking  humor  housingbubble  housing 
march 2008 by robertogreco
Play Journal: New Labour's plan for children's play
"We want to move away from the 'No Ball Games' culture of the past so that public spaces in residential areas are more child friendly," says the plan. Great news for play advocates - now the question is, will they ever address the right to play for adults
uk  play  children  games  policy  childhood  playgrounds  government 
march 2008 by robertogreco
Sound Candy
"device with which anyone in the world can create his/her own playground anywhere of using sound and movements around him/her.In our daily life, we are surrounded by the "Kings of Entertainment" such as theme parks and home video game machines. However, w
toys  play  sound  audio  playgrounds 
march 2008 by robertogreco
010 publishers: Ground-up City. Play as a Design Tool
A handle for urban strategy on playgrounds & new perspective on meaning of play...maps continuing history of urban design strategy for play in city. Liane Lefaivre has developed a theoretical model for tackling playgrounds as an urban strategy. She steps
architecture  playgrounds  play  books  design  children  urbanism  urban  theory  learning  cities  via:grahamje 
march 2008 by robertogreco
PingMag - First spring at Isamu Noguchi’s Moerenuma Park
"“The whole park is a sculpture”, is what Isamu Noguchi said about Moerenuma Park in Sapporo, Hokkaido. Moerenuma Park opened last July, 18 years after Isamu visited Sapporo for the first time to design this 189-hectare park."
art  parks  sculpture  design  landscape  playgrounds  isamunoguchi  japan  sapporo  pingmag 
march 2008 by robertogreco
Snug & Outdoor
"artists who design dynamic & imaginative playgrounds. We involve children & adults at every stage & enjoy working closely with schools, architects, contractors, engineers etc...creative team also may involve dancers, lighting designers & poets."
architecture  art  children  play  playgrounds  design  creativity  collaboration  urban  lcproject 
march 2008 by robertogreco
Book Review - Ground-up City. Play as a Design Tool - we make money not art
"Ground-up City places the playground high on the agenda as an urban design challenge. It also shows how specifying a generic, academic model for a particular situation can lead to a practically applicable design resource."
architecture  art  urbanism  design  urban  playgrounds  books  play  wmmna 
february 2008 by robertogreco
Learning From Tijuana: Hudson, N.Y., Considers Different Housing Model: Teddy Cruz - Architecture - New York Times
"great achievement here has less to do with aesthetic experimentation than with creating a bold antidote to the depressing model of ersatz small-town America embraced by so many suburban developers in recent years."
teddycruz  tijuana  sandiego  housing  hudsonny  hudson  design  architecture  class  community  identity  gentrification  urban  landscape  gardens  redevelopment  playgrounds  affordability  density  green  environment  public  private  urbanism  planning 
february 2008 by robertogreco
Design Trust for Public Space: Playgrounds to Playgardens: Designing for Free Play
"Designing for Free Play, a publication to be released in Fall 2007, explores the potential of youth play areas that go beyond the traditional playground offerings of swings, slides and see-saws. Building off of the Design Trust’s Designing for Children
children  play  playgrounds  via:foe  design  space  lcproject  learning 
january 2008 by robertogreco
things magazine: The visions of Price, Archigram, et al, have had more of an influence on children's soft play centres than on romantic, nomadic combinations of architecture and machinery
"general consensus amongst architects&historians...Cedric Price's Fun Palace was a primary influence on Rogers & Piano's Pompidou...genesis of utopian ideal of cultural building as playground, one still beloved by architects, urbanists and city planners"
cedricprice  urban  education  lcproject  pompidou  renzopiano  richardrogers  technology  urbanism  space  design  architecture  cities  planning  culture  history  children  playgrounds 
january 2008 by robertogreco
things magazine: uncertainty and uneasiness we have about the relationship between the city and the child
"firewalled zones...branded virtual spaces where adventure & discovery...carefully controlled, closely linked to consumption. Adult nostalgia blinds us to new realities, allows us to indulge in fond remembrance of past while keeping tight grip on present"
architecture  childhood  urban  urbanism  schools  schooldesign  children  cities  design  nostalgia  parenting  play  playgrounds  risk  sociology  gamechanging  society  lcproject  space  things  safety 
december 2007 by robertogreco
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