playgrounds

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Art Design

Rael San Fratello's Pink Teeter-Totters at the U.S.-Mexico Border Win Beazley Design of the Year

January 19, 2021

Grace Ebert

The three neon pink seesaws that slotted through the U.S.-Mexico border were just named the 2020 Beazley Design of the Year. Conceived by Oakland-based artists Ronald Rael and Virginia San Fratello (previously), the playful, subversive project was installed in July 2019 between El Paso, Texas, and Ciudad Juárez and physically connected the two communities despite the 20-foot barrier. The prestigious, annual award comes from London’s Design Museum.

Rael and San Fratello spent a decade working on “Teeter-Totter Wall” before its installation at the border during a particularly divisive time under the Trump administration. Although it was in use for less than an hour, the interactive work intended to foster and display unity between children and adults from both countries as they physically lifted each other up. In response to the administration separating families at the border, Rael wrote about the project:

The teeter-totters represented the kind of balance necessary for any two people, two nations, to achieve equality, with the understanding that the actions on one side have direct consequences on the other. The teeter-totter is the physical manifestation of the Golden Rule—treat others as you would like others to treat you—a maxim that is shared by all cultures and religions. To experience joy on a teeter-totter, you must allow the other person to experience joy as well.

Among the other winners are a 3D rendering of SARS-CoV-2 by Alissa Eckert and Dan Higgins for the CDC and Social Design Collaborative’s “ModSkool,” a moveable building that can be easily assembled and taken down in response to evictions of farming communities in India. Check out all the top designs through the museum’s virtual exhibition that runs until March 28, and head to Rael San Fratello’s site and Instagram to see more of the duo’s socially minded projects.

 

 

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Design

Lively Interventions by 100 Architects Transform Urban Spaces into Vibrant Playgrounds

October 8, 2020

Grace Ebert

“Big Bang” in Pingjiaqiao Road 36, Pudong, Shanghai. All images © 100 Architects, shared with permission

Walk around Shanghai or Dubai, and you might stumble upon a bright, geometric playground amongst the concrete. The design studio 100 Architects installs bold interventions that transform typical urban spaces into colorful playgrounds. Each public structure, which boasts entertainment for both kids and adults, is conceptualized around a theme, whether a massive shower complete with ground-level waves or an illuminated castle with inner tunnels. Splashes of color, playground equipment like swings and slides, and towering structures frame the areas, while some spaces, like the “Sea Horse,” sprinkle water from a central spot.

100 Architects recently partnered with urban planning group Playgones to collaborate on a range of interventions throughout Europe in upcoming months, which you can follow on Instagram. (via Journal du Design)

 

“Creek Play” in Dubai Creek Harbor, Dubai, UAE

“Hang Out” in Pingjiaqiao Road 36, Pudong, Shanghai, China

“Paint Drop” in Daning Road, Jin’An District, Shanghai, China

“Paint Drop” in Daning Road, Jin’An District, Shanghai, China

“Seahorse” in Pingjiaqiao Road 36, Chongqing, China

“The Shower” in Daning Road, Jin’An District, Shanghai, China

“The Shower” in Daning Road, Jin’An District, Shanghai, China

“The Shower” in Daning Road, Jin’An District, Shanghai, China

“Secret Garden”

“Secret Garden”

 

 



Amazing Art Design

Neighboring Communities Playfully Connect Atop Neon Pink Teetertotters Slotted Through the U.S.-Mexico Border Wall

July 30, 2019

Laura Staugaitis

Ronald Rael and Virginia San Fratello have long worked in activating structures in projects that blur the line between art and architecture. The Oakland-based duo, who self-describe as pursuing “applied architectural research”, also have a longstanding interest in the United States-Mexico border wall. In 2009 Rael wrote Borderwall as Architecture, which features a conceptual drawing of a teetertotter. The concept relocates the classic playground equipment to the border wall as its fulcrum. Ten years later, this cover art came to life in the neighboring communities of Sunland Park, New Mexico and Colonia Anapra, Mexico.

Constructed by Taller Herrería in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, neon pink teetertotters slot through the wall’s narrow gaps, allowing citizens on both sides to playfully engage with their cross-border counterparts. The fundamental design of the teetertotter, while delightful and chuckle-inducing, also functions by each user literally feeling the weight of humanity of the person on the other side. In an Instagram post announcing the project Rael shared, “children and adults were connected in meaningful ways on both sides with the recognition that the actions that take place on one side have a direct consequence on the other side.”

Rael and San Fratello worked in collaboration with Omar Rios to execute “Teetertotter Walls.” Rael is a Professor of Architecture at the University of California, Berkeley and San Fratello is an Assistant Professor at San José State University. Dive into an archive of nearly twenty years of the duo’s socially engaged work on their website, and follow along with their latest projects on Instagram.

 

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Design

Minimalist Modular Systems Turn Walls Into Feline Playgrounds

May 8, 2019

Laura Staugaitis

Mike Wilson and Megan Hanneman, founders of CatastrophiCreations, design modular wall-mounted systems to keep cats active. Parents of humans and pets alike (myself included) are all too familiar with the trip hazard of toys scattered on the floor. Wilson and Hanneman move the activity zone to the wall with vertical playgrounds that allow cats to climb, jump, scratch, and even tip-toe across swinging bridges. Eschewing bright colors and plastic materials, the designers use solid wood, hidden brackets, and canvas to create more subtle and sustainable products. You can learn more about the the Grand Rapids, Michigan-based business in an interview and factory tour on Etsy’s blog. Check out their range of products, from the Thunderdome to the Temple Complex, in their online store.

 

 



Design

A Suspended Neon Net Invites Guests to Bounce Stories Above a Paris Shopping Center

April 19, 2019

Kate Sierzputowski

A circular net in a bright shades of neon greens, yellows, and pinks hovers above the Paris-based shopping complex Galeries Lafayette Paris Haussmann in a new installation to celebrate the impending arrival of summer. The suspended playground gives visitors a chance to at once lie underneath the brilliant dome at the center of the building, while also watching shoppers bustling on the ground floor below. The installation is a part of the store’s Funorama initiative which in addition to the central play area, also includes “fun zones” such as old school arcade games, a VR experience, and foosball. Galeries Lafayette Paris Haussmann invites guests to play, bounce, and lounge on the colorful structure through June 9, 2019. (via fubiz)

 

 



Design

'The Weaving Project' Invites Visitors to Climb Inside a Massive Installation Formed From Nearly 10,000 Feet of Rope

February 20, 2019

Kate Sierzputowski

For this year’s London Fashion Week, British fashion designer Anya Hindmarch collaborated with design collective Numen/For Use (previously) to create an installation that would excavate the playgrounds and play sets of visitors’ distant memories. The Tube, a bright blue structure created from nearly 10,000 feet of rope, was a part of a temporary pop-up in a Soho warehouse called The Weave Project which also included a cafe and store. The structure invited guests to revisit their childhood by climbing within the gigantic meandering structure. This is not the first time Hindmarch has used London Fashion Week as an excuse to create an installation dedicated to play— last fall the designer recalled another child-like object by producing a massive beanbag that filled the main room of London’s Banqueting House. If you like this work, check out Toshiko Horiuchi MacAdam as well. (via Dezeen)