Throughout human history, the movement of populations–in search of food, shelter, or better economic opportunities–has been the norm rather than the exception. Today, however, the world is witnessing unprecedented levels of displacement. The United Nations reports that 68.5 million people are currently displaced from their homes; this includes nearly 25.4 million refugees, over half of whom are under the age of eighteen. With conflicts raging on in countries like Syria and Myanmar, and climate change set to lead to increased sea levels and crop failures, the crisis is increasingly being recognised as one of the foundational challenges of the twenty-first century.
While emergency housing has dominated the discourse surrounding displacement in the architecture industry, it is critical for architects and planners to study and respond to the socio-cultural ramifications of population movements. How do we build cities that are adaptive to the holistic needs of fluid populations? How do we ensure that our communities absorb refugees and migrants into their local social fabric?
This World Refugee Day, let’s take a look at 5 shining examples of social infrastructure from around the world–schools, hospitals, and community spaces–that are specifically directed at serving displaced populations.
New York-based collaborative and design studio Snarkitecture have unveiled their newest interactive installation, bringing a surreal sense of play to Hong Kong’s waterfront. Titled “BOUNCE,” the installation features hundreds of 300% sized bouncing balls contained in a cage-like stadium, inviting the public to “create their own unique playing experiences.”
The program is spread across three locations, with the feature installation along the Harbour City waterfront, an indoor installation at the Ocean Center titled “Gallery by the Harbour,” and a children’s “Eyeball Maze” at the Ocean Terminal.
While large-scale 3D printing for architecture continues to be a busy area of research, France-based company XtreeE has been using 3D printed concrete in projects since 2015. Their latest creation is an organic truss-style support structure for a preschool playground in Aix-en-Provence.
Good architects have always designed with tactile sensations in mind, from the rich wood grain on a bannister, to the thick, shaggy carpet at a daycare center. It’s an effective way to engage all the senses, connecting the eye, hand, and mind in ways that create richer environments.
But one architecture professor at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor is working on a tactile architecture-for-autism environment that does much more than offer visitors a pleasing and diverse haptic experience: It’s a form of therapy for kids like 7-year-old daughter Ara, who has autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
With the aim of supporting the design work of our readers, the company UrbanPlay has shared with us a series of files in .DWG format for different models of children's games, playgrounds, and equipment for public space. Files can be downloaded directly in this article and include 2D and 3D files.
Have you ever thought of designing a house that is 8-foot cubed? It's unlikely, unless you've been involved in Dallas CASA’s event “Parade of Playhouses.” For 25 years, the association has asked architects, designers and builders to conceive, construct, and donate playhouses to raise funds for abused and neglected children. Each year, the playhouses are displayed in Northpark Mall – Dallas’ main “cultural centre” – where people can buy $5 raffle tickets to win one of the playhouses exhibited.
Architect Bob Borson conceived his first two playhouses for Dallas CASA in 2009, before starting his popular blog Life of an Architect and subsequently launching “The Life of An Architect Design Competition.” The idea came in 2010 when a great number of architects suffered from the economic crisis. As Borson explains: “I could have a playhouse design competition open to other architects so that they could remain connected to the architectural profession.” This also required Borson to raise money and find builders to construct the designs. “I have always covered all the expenses so that the competition would remain free to enter – the playhouses were for charity and it seemed like the right thing to do,” reflected Borson.
Kick start your playful summer with a panel discussion about the impact of design on childhood development! Inspired by BSA Space’s new exhibition, Extraordinary Playscapes, an array of unique panelists will consider ways to prevent barriers of play in urban areas. The conversation will delve into how play is related to design, psychology, parenting, architecture, and development while highlighting the role of designers in a more playful future. After the talk, participants will enjoy light refreshments and exclusive access to the exhibition.
Join Michael Laris and Missy Benson ASLA of Playworld as they explore the design processes of two very different urban play solutions: PlayCubes (originally designed by Richard Dattner FAIA in 1969) and PlayForm7, both featured as part of Extraordinary Playscapes, currently on view at BSA Space.
Featured in Extraordinary Playscapes, the summer exhibition at BSA Space, The Plas Madoc Adventure Playground in Northern Wales is one of the world’s newest adventure playgrounds. Fondly known as "The Land," it employs some of the play movement’s oldest "junk" philosophies.This new documentary explores a place where old tires and dumpster detritus take the place of swing sets and slides, and is “a must-see for anyone interested in play work, or play, period.” (Amy Fusselman, "Savage Park”)
The Dutch Structuralist architect Aldo van Eyck left his mark in Amsterdam – not only in the form of buildings but also, perhaps surprisingly, in the form of urban playgrounds. Over the course of his career he created a network of more than 700 playgrounds throughout the capital. Today, only a handful of these remain intact. A special publication, compiled by Denisa Kollarova and Anna van Lingen, revisits the seventeen remaining Van Eyck playgrounds in Amsterdam’s city centre. The following extract from the book seeks to introduce the project, and describe its urgency.
We live in an era in which there are not many carefully constructed playgrounds. We don’t like what we see. Have we—city decision makers, architects, designers, parents, friends —forgotten to be critical?
Playgrounds are spaces where children and adults can have fun together. They also play an important role in the development of social and problem-solving skills. Explore the way playground design can improve the quality of life for children and families through a tour of the exhibition Extraordinary Playscapes and then design and build the perfect playscape for your neighborhood.
This program is in partnership with Design Museum Boston.
By examining the history and science of play—including 40 notable examples of playground design by international leading experts—this exhibition will explore how designers translate play objectives into innovative environments. Curated by Design Museum Boston, the exhibition highlights include public programs with playscape design experts, workshops for adults and children, and a Playground Passport that will promote play spaces in the neighborhoods of Boston.
"Within humanitarian responses, programmatically, children often become invisible." (Marc Sommers)
The Syrian crisis has forced thousands of families to leave their homes in search of safe places to continue with their lives. Many families have moved to Lebanon, where the UN has raised a series of informal settlements. While effective in providing shelter, they don't provide specific solutions for children, many of whom have had their studies interrupted and don't have public spaces equipped to play sports and interact with other kids.
In response to this situation, the architects of CatalyticAction have designed and built a playground in one of the schools developed by The Kayany Foundation and American University of Beirut's Center for Civic Engagement and Community Service, involving children throughout the entire process and allowing the structure to be easily disassembled, transported and either reassembled or repurposed.
Barcelona-based designer David Lamolla of SmartPlayhouse creates children’s playhouses based on contemporary architecture styles, aiming to create fun spaces for children that are also sculptural elements for the garden. His Kyoto playhouse series is inspired by minimalist Japanese architecture, taking on a form reminiscent of Toyo Ito’s Mikimoto Ginza 2 building.
Starting June 10, the RIBA will present The Brutalist Playground - an exhibition that is part sculpture, part architectural installation, which invites people of all ages to come and play, the Brutalist way. Occupying the entire Architecture Gallery, the immersive landscape is a new commission by Turner Prize nominated design and architecture collective Assemble and artist Simon Terrill. It explores the abstract concrete playgrounds that were designed as part of Brutalist housing estates in the mid-twentieth century, but which no longer exist. They became playgrounds unsuitable for play.