2020 may be headed toward its merciful close, but we’ll likely have to continue social distancing well into 2021, and that means spending as much time outdoors as we can get. A new series of playground installations by 100 Architects will not only give kids a place to play in the fresh air, it’ll also inject some much-needed cheer into cities throughout Europe.
100 Architects is a Shanghai-based office of 15 young international creative designers and architects who work “at the intersection of place making, street art, landscape architecture, and urban interventions.” They’ve already realized dozens of awesome public spaces around the world, and now they’re collaborating with French urban planning group Playgones on a vision that focuses on the importance of play.
These aren’t just any old playgrounds. They function as urban art installations as much as functional spaces, each one custom-designed for its particular setting in response to the surrounding landscapes and architecture. Visible from blocks away, they make no attempt to blend in, luring in both kids and their parents like beacons. Each space also incorporates features like climbable surfaces, protective umbrellas, sport courts, benches, jungle gyms, swings, and slides.
Both Playgones and 100 Architects aim to make public spaces more fun and kid-friendly. They want to encourage social interaction above all else, inviting users to jump, sit, climb, lie down, take selfies, and more. If you’re looking at all these play surfaces and thinking about germs, you’re not alone, though mask wearing and nearby hand sanitizing stations would certainly help with that (and, just to be safe, maybe everyone should do their best to avoid ball pits in general for the foreseeable future).
Even if you don’t have kids or aren’t much of a jungle gym user yourself, just catching a glimpse of installations like these could help bring a smile to your face in hard times.
“We questioned ourselves about how to call attention and make our projects remarkable in this culture of disposability, wherein art is forgotten as quickly as it is celebrated,” says the 100 Architects team. “And we came to understand that just architectural objects for social interactions were not enough to attract attention on a global scale. Rather, we had to play according to the rules of this culture of overstimulation, in addition to having a functional purpose and a meaningful narrative.”
“Our projects had to pop and be controversial, eye-catching and contrasting from their surroundings, hence our particular use of color and iconic shapes. But our projects also had to offer an interesting program of functions to be openly used and enjoyed, displayed as open platforms for social interactions. In short, we needed a striking and eye-catching style that would call the attention of citizens, stimulating them and encouraging the occurrence of social dynamics. Our projects in public spaces seek to stimulate the user by providing colorful landscapes and intricate topographies that allow the user to interact in a much closer way with the objects and the space.”
Each new project will be posted on 100 Architects’ Instagram as it’s finished. Their portfolio really is dazzling, and worth checking out in its entirety just for the fascinating variations in shapes, colors, and configurations.