Four-mast spacenet and suspension bridge, Siedlung Obstallee, Berlin Spandau, 1978, © Conrad Roland

The Playground Project. An exhibition in Frankfurt am Main

In recent years, design for children has often degenerated into a mere lifestyle theme. All of a sudden we had design classics for adults available in miniature for children – because after all, it is the parents, grandparents, relatives and friends who actually buy the products. It should not be forgotten that between 1950 and 1980 there was a dedicated movement concerned mainly with the child-friendly design of playgrounds. In the wake of this, the playground became a creative laboratory. Innovative, crazy and exciting projects emerged in the cities of the industrial nations: landscape architects, artists, activists and citizens wanted to provide children with the ideal space for playing, while at the same time trying out a new approach to community and city. Novel equipment with educational value was placed in town squares, and adventure playgrounds were built where children could let off steam and let their powers of imagination roam free. Based on the pioneers of new playground concepts, The Playground Project, on show from 9 November 2019 to 21 June 2020 at the German Architecture Museum in Frankfurt am Main, brings the richness of this period to life – with images, models, plans, books and numerous films, but also with playground sculptures for climbing, sliding and hide-and-seek. The project was curated for the Kunsthalle Zürich, then updated and complemented for the German Architecture Museum, by Gabriela Burkhalter. Everybody – whether children, parents, playground planners, teachers, landscape architects or students – is welcome to discover the playgrounds of yesterday, and to imagine those of tomorrow. It is worth noting that Herman Miller recently referred to Isamo Noguchi’s 1976 Playscapes in Atlanta project in an in-depth article.

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