Urban Playground: The Latest Architecture and News
Since the 1990s, copious amounts of cities in China have been undergoing urban renewal. Prompted by this state-facilitated urban redevelopment, skyscrapers are being built rapidly in major cities to attract affluent middle-classes, resulting in countless relocation and displacement of the working-class population. Such process is known as “gentrification”.
As cities and neighborhoods are being gentrified thoroughly to meet middle-class taste and boost economic growth, urban land resources are being treated in ways to increase business potential, leaving little room for the development of urban street life. Among rows of concrete and steel constructions, nowadays, urbanites are struggling to find a place to sit, rest, and play during leisure time. Analyzing five architectural practices creating livable urban public spaces, this article discusses the challenges and opportunities of urban revitalization in China under the phenomenon of gentrification.
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?
In Boston, playgrounds are no longer just for kids. Twenty LED-lit circular swings have been installed outdoors as a part of "Swing Time," Boston's first interactive sculpture installation. The hanging, glowing orbs are a twist on traditional rubber-and-rope swings, dangling from a minimal steel structure similar to those used in conventional playgrounds. LED lights embedded in the swings activate and change color as each swing moves, returning to a dim white light when static. The piece is designed to blend Boston's design community with its expanding technology sector while playfully engaging residents.
Take a seat in "Swing Time" with more photos and info after the break.
How often are spontaneous, primitive, radical actions implemented in large urban centres? Siempre Fiesta (or Always Party) by Andrés Carretero and Carolina Klocker was recently voted by the We-Traders community as their favourite in the recent Open Call Madrid competition. Viewing the city through children's eyes, where the order of the day is primarily playing or making, and using the concept of "free movement of our body in space" as a key driver, Carretero and Klocker developed a playful scheme that proposed filling a niche in Madrid's urban grid with sand as a way of managing the environment to create "comfortable space."
Designed by Urban Playground, the ‘Lighthouse for the Dutchman’ project was proposed for the chapel at the entry of the Los Dutchman State Park in Phoenix, Arizona. Through a rearrangement of an embryological, mathematical reference known as “Shrek’s Surface”, spatial varieties are derived as a way to alter the combined experiences of both the spiritual and natural environment in the Arizona desert. The prototypical, curved surface is morphed and manipulated, creating contextual and functional relationships that are then translated into a series of parameters for the building’s morphology. More images and architects’ description after the break.