Although it might seem a bit counterintuitive considering the coronavirus pandemic has forced New York City schools to set up outdoor classrooms to stymie the spread of COVID-19, the New York-and-Rome-based Architensions has revealed an indoor playground in Brooklyn for small groups of children.
Children’s Playspace is an 875-square-foot collection of custom plywood play equipment inspired by, according to the architects, Isamu Noguchi’s undulating, unrealized Contoured Playground and Aldo van Eyck’s minimalist Post-War playgrounds in Amsterdam. Both eschewed highly structured play design and encouraged children to use their imaginations, and Children’s Playscape uses structures inspired by nature to attempt to emulate the same response. The project was commissioned by a “wellness professional” who wanted to create an activity space to encourage collective play.
“The goal is to iconize the forms to make them recognizable and welcoming for the children,” wrote Architensions co-principal Alessandro Orsini. “And, at the same time, to create inspiring spaces where they will always feel in control of their environments.”
The project is broken into three separate play areas, each with a distinct shape, color scheme, and natural feature or traditional structure it’s meant to evoke.
The largest is a 19-foot-long tunnel painted orange inside and lined with colorful geometric cutouts reminiscent of a Memphis-style rumpus room. The structure’s roof is also a semi-translucent orange, keeping the entire experience light and airy, while the windows let the children inside see and hear the outside room.
A ten-foot-wide, eight-foot-tall green circular enclosure reminiscent of a gazebo or treehouse has been sited next to a large window, and the natural light coming in through the structure’s fabric mesh is intended to reference leaves dappling sunlight in a forest. At the other end of the playground is a 12-foot-tall washi paper “igloo” hung from the ceiling, and inside, according to Architensions, the light is scattered to resemble snow.
The room Children’s Playspace is staged in has been decorated to reference the forest as well: Overhead, white foam slats have been arranged into almost pixelated clouds, while warmly colored rubber flooring underfoot is both durable and intended to resemble fallen pine needles. A mural of trees runs the length of the playscape, while the metallic fabric hung around the rest of the room is meant to remind participants of the sky or running water.