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VAN EYCK, Aldo. On the Design of Play Equipment and Playground Organization, 1962.

Taking Play Seriously (I)

II Playgrounds Meet

In 2014, and coinciding with the “Playgrounds. Reinventing the Square” exhibition at the Museo Reina Sofía in Madrid, some twenty groups from all over Spain dedicated to architecture, education and childhood came together to hold what they called the I Encuentro Playgrounds” (“I Playgrounds Symposium”). Just a few months later, a second symposium was held in Barcelona, as part of the Arquitecturas Colectivas (“Collective Architectures”) event. The seed of the incipient “Playgrounds” group had been planted.

Construcciones en juego (“Building at Play”). Medialab Prado (Sistema Lupo).

Over these past 5 years of its existence, this network focussing on childhood, architecture and the city has been conducting work groups on different themes and organizing symposia in different cities (Pontevedra, Madrid, Porto) to discuss and share experiences on a series of thematic issues: educational spaces, constructive toys or educational devices, education about architecture in schools or in museums… They have also organised educational experiences , including two workshops at Medialab-Prado in Madrid, travelling exhibitions and two university summer courses/teacher training programmes. With the creation of the Ludantia association in 2017, and thanks to major initiatives like the organization of the I Ludantia International Biennial in 2019, the network is now well consolidated. The theme of the biennial was “Living with fun in mind: from the school playground to the city as a game board”, a clear statement of the group’s desire to address the issue of childhood in our cities.

Prize-winning projects. O noso patio (“Our Playground”) (I Ludantia Biennial).

Reflecting on play and its social importance is nothing new. Throughout the 20th century, different architects and urban planners focussed their attention on recreational space in the city, resulting in the first “playgrounds”. Those early playgrounds gradually evolved into the highly standardised spaces we see today, most of which are simply a repetitive showcase of urban playground equipment. A playground, however, should ideally be what Aldo Van Eyck proposed: “a place where a child feels at home and can recognise a smaller world within the larger world”,1 a place a child feels to be their own, where they are able to make decisions. If we consider Loris Malaguzzi’s idea of space as the “third teacher”, we also find ourselves before an opportunity to educate children in civic values and democratic culture: on the one hand by creating affective links with public spaces (squares, parks, the street), which children will then defend as something they identify as being their own, and on the other by inhabiting a place where, because it belongs to everyone,  it’s necessary to learn to live with others.

II Playgrounds Meet. Cocreable (“Co-creatable”).

Play is a psychological element indispensable for development, and is recognised as such in Art. 31 of the Declaration of the Rights of the Child (1959). With a professional panorama clearly receptive to debate about the issue and prepared to take action, the only thing needed is a will on the part of government organisms to meet the requirements of a group which does not often get the chance to make its voice heard.

V Playgrounds Meet (Ignacio Becansa).

Notas de página

VAN EYCK, Aldo. On the Design of Play Equipment and Playground Organization, 1962.

arquitecta (ETSAG), y compagina la actividad profesional con la divulgación, la investigación y la docencia. Es máster en Teoría y Práctica del Proyecto Arquitectónico (ETSAB) y en la actualidad realiza el doctorado en el grupo de investigación Habitar (UPC). Corresponsal de La Ciudad Viva, desde noviembre de 2013 forma parte de Re-cooperar, colectivo de jóvenes arquitectos de Barcelona, con el que ha participado en varios proyectos y ha sido docente de diversos talleres en la ETSA La Salle (Barcelona) y ESARQ UIC (Barcelona).

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