Architectures for play in Central Park: adventures against apathy

Juan José Tuset Davó


Children's play architectures propose new uses for urban public space. The intervention of the New York architect Richard Dattner with his "Adventure playground" (1967) in Central Park creates a children's play environment from formal anarchy in which children can imagine their own ways of playing. The proposal of elemental architectures that encourage children to be adventurous was opposed to the apathy inherited from the conservative institutionalized design. Structures linked by a slightly winding concrete wall define living and playing spaces by creating a natural separation of the children's and the adult's environment. The concatenation of iconic forms of children’s plays aims to choreograph the child's personal learning experiences. Dattner's project is the architectural expression of a bold play program. It represents the rebellious attitude of young architects of advanced ideology. It symbolizes the radical change in thinking about the design of the public playground. It considers the need to involve the community in the project phase and is a contribution to the artistic avant-garde movements that vindicated the specific object of minimal expression.


Adventure playground; Urban activism; Minimalism; Reinforced concrete; New York

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