Housed in the former home of the 10-story International Shoe Company, the sprawling 600,000 square-foot City Museum in St. Louis is quite possibly the ultimate urban playground ever constructed. The museum is the brainchild of artist and sculptor Bob Cassilly who opened the space in 1997 after years of renovation and construction. Although Cassilly passed away in 2011, the museum is perpetually under construction as new features are added or improved thanks to a ragtag group of 20 artists known affectionately as the Cassilly Crew.
So what can you find at the City Museum? How about a sky-high jungle gym making use of two repurposed airplanes, two towering 10-story slides and numerous multi-floor slides, a rooftop Ferris wheel and a cantilevered school bus that juts out from the roof, subterranean caves, a pipe organ, hundreds of feet of tunnels that traverse from floor to floor, an aquarium, ball pits, a shoe lace factory, a circus arts facility, restaurants, and even a bar… because why not? All the materials used to build the museum including salvaged bridges, old chimneys, construction cranes, and miles of tile are sourced locally, making the entire endeavor a massive recycling project.
If you have kids (or are a kid at heart) and live in the midwestern United States or have any other means to get to St. Louis, if you aren’t immediately planning a trip to City Museum, you’re missing out on life. On my first visit last year our family hardly left the museum for two days. It is the complete antithesis to commercialized theme parks like Disneyland. You can see more photos at Gallery Hip.
If you’re afraid of heights, caves, the dark, suffer from claustrophobia or vertigo, this might not be for you, but if not, a small Welsh town has the perfect subterranean adventure for you: the world’s largest underground trampoline. Just unveiled in Blaenau Ffestiniog, North Wales, Bounce Below is a network of trampolines and slides mounted to the walls of an abandoned slate mine at heights of 20 feet to 180 feet off the ground. Visitors are welcome to climb, bounce, slide, and jump in the netting amidst a technicolor light show. Tickets are available online and the space will open to the public July 4th, 2014. (via My Modern Met)
Danish design firm Monstrum (previously) continues to redefine the modern playscape, constructing numerous fantastical scenes for kids to climb on in locations around the world. Founded by Ole B. Nielsen and Christian Jensen, the award-winning firm has an extensive background in theatrical set design in theaters throughout Copenhagen that strongly influences their groundbreaking aesthetic. Each new playground becomes the backdrop for a dramatic scene, from towering robots to hoards of attacking insects. For their most recent creation in Moscow’s famous Gorky Park, Mostrum constructed a gargantuan octopus overtaking a huge oceanliner, complete with slides, cargo nets and climbing walls (shown above in subzero temperatures). See more recent work in their project portfolio.
Crocheted Jacaré is the latest work from Brooklyn-based artist Olek, who traveled to Brasil for the 2012 SESC Arts Show in order to encase a massive playground shaped like an alligator in her trademark crochet covering. With the help of several colleagues Olek covered the reptilian playscape in North Carolinian acrylic yarn and Brazilian ribbons over a period of several weeks. The SESC show runs through July 29th and you can see much more of Olek’s work on her website. All images courtesy Lost Art. (via designboom)
In the mid 1990s Japanese artist Toshiko Horiuchi MacAdam was showing a large scale crochet artwork at an art gallery when two rambunctious children approached her and asked if the sculpture, resembling a colorful hammock, could be climbed on. She nervously agreed and watched cautiously as her suspended artwork twisted and stretched as the kids climbed on top of it. Suddenly an idea was born. Almost three years later MacAdam would open her first large-scale crochet playground in conjunction with engineers TIS & Partners and landscape architects Takano Landscape Planning. She has since created several additional playscapes around Japan, photos of which were recently made available for the first time online only a few weeks ago. However the MobileMe site where the projects were hosted seems to be permanently down, but Paige over at the Playscapes blog managed to highlight a few of the most interesting shots. Hopefully a new site will go up before long.