Did you know the Netherlands has an annual playground designing contest? Me either, but it sounds like a fun idea. Called the Richard Krajicek Foundation Playground Awards, the competition was started develop sustainable outdoor recreation areas that would strengthen community ties without the burden of a large ecological footprint.
This year’s second place entry is a stunning interpretation of the contest’s instruction “to involve the surrounding buildings as closely as possible in the design of the playground.” A Dutch design firm called BOARD took the floor plan from a typical apartment in the neighborhood, enlarged it five times, and used it as the layout for the new playground. In an effort to give the community a sense of ownership of the design, the playground relies on residents to donate materials from their homes that will be repurposed as elements of the playground.
The designers not only wanted to recycle the layout of the playground, they also wanted materials from the households surrounding the playground. Residents were asked to donate old tiles, clothes, coins, bottles, tires, pallets, crates, wheels, phones, corks or picture frames. These materials would be upcycled into walkways, planters, and a game surface. “The goal is to build – as much as possible – the new playgrounds out of recycled materials collected from the people of the neighborhood ” explain the designers. Each time residents would visit the playground, they would be reminded of how their recycled goods had helped to build it, generating a sense of pride in the community.
By collecting recyclable materials from the people in the neighborhood that live, for example, in a radius of one mile around the playground, a lot of energy is saved in transport and in the production of new materials. BOARD hopes that their award-winning design will be viewed as a strategy for green playground building all over the world.