Designs

PLAY[ground]

By HASSELL

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    PLAY[ground]

  • PLAY[ground]

    PLAY[ground]

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    PLAY[ground]

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    PLAY[ground]

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About the project

Putting outdoor play back on the city agenda
HASSELL recently teamed up with not for profit organisation Archikidz and Sydney Living Museums on a playful project to make kids seen and heard in the city.

Together, the team created PLAY[ground] – a place that would inspire tomorrow’s thinkers and city makers to play, experiment and toy with ideas about the future shape of our cities. In the process, Archikidz and HASSELL captured invaluable insights into what makes a great, playable city. These insights will be used to inspire fresh strategies for public engagement and inform future public realm projects.

“PLAY[ground] was a collaboration between a diverse and dynamic team of creatives, who have a collective passion for making our city more equitable and sustainable for future generations,” said Vanessa Trowell, Director of Archikidz.

A sell-out space to swing, climb, crawl, tunnel, jump and connect

For three days, HASSELL and Archikidz, with the help of 100 volunteers, transformed the Hyde Park Barracks, in the heart of Sydney, into a captivating destination for spontaneous, uninhibited play.

As a free, ticketed event PLAY[ground] reached capacity before the gates even opened. Six thousand people – including 4,000 children – attended over the course of the three-day installation that was part of the 2015 VIVID Sydney festival.

The Archikidz brief called for a single playground. But, after testing early plans with a group of children, HASSELL created a collection of interactive installations to inspire different types of outdoor play. Kids were diving into multi-coloured ball pools, shimmying up ropes, and running through the maze of plants and a forest of multi-coloured ribbons made from old parachutes. Retired sailing spinnakers and timber palettes were given new life as platforms for kids to swing on, climb through, crawl under and jump off.

At the end of it all, everything was repurposed, returned or recycled – accomplishing the ultimate low cost, low impact event at the heritage-listed barracks.

Getting serious about fun

Through PLAY[ground], HASSELL and Archikidz explored what happens when a child’s vision of play is inserted into the adult world. Ideas were tested with kids throughout the design process and their responses to the final outcome recorded.

The program for PLAY[ground] included a number of free workshops about city-making and the built environment. Kids, families and friends immersed themselves in green wall workshops with specialists, Junglefy, drew their visions for the future city, and experimented with new ways of travelling through the city with parkour lessons.

Kids shared their thoughts about how they would make cities more liveable and fun in the HASSELL ‘Little House: Big ideas’ – a wooden cubby house in the middle of PLAY[ground]. While there were plenty of references to jet packs and robots, many kids spoke about the importance of green space, how living in an apartment allows you to make the most of the city, and new types of environmentally-friendly transport they would like to see ‘when they grow up’.

Project credits
Designer: HASSELL
Client: Archikidz and Sydney Living Museums
Collaborators: Archikidz, Sydney Living Museums, Junglefy, Andreasens Green, Design Landscape, Innov8 Access, JumpSquad, Imprint Acoustics
Photography: James Horan, Vin Rathod, HASSELL