Upon our recent coverage of the PLAYscapes competition results earlier last week, we would like to present a more thorough look into one of the listed projects, "Plant-a-BALL PARKS" by OP-AL. Out of over 500 registered entrants, OP-AL received an Honorable Mention for their proposal.
Taking a new approach to traditional playground equipment, Plant-a-BALL PARKS is a series of ball-shell play structures that also act as tree "planters" — in that the ball houses the infrastructure to provide irrigation, drainage, and soil for the tree. At the same time, the tree provides structural footing for the ball. And whether the balls are a temporary installation or a permanent one, they can easily brighten up any vacant city lot — turning it into a more welcoming gathering space.
Keep reading to learn more about this proposal.
"Childhood is a period in one’s life in which developmental physiology takes place, and shapes personalities and characteristics of adulthood. This is typically perceived as a phase in one’s life in which exploring, socializing, learning and of course, playing are all taking place. Play could be argued as one of the principal activities in which other developmental categories are stimulated. It allows children to utilize creativity, imagination, dexterity, as well as physical, cognitive and emotional strength. It is this developmental stage in a child’s life that we chose to focus on in this brief. We believe that every child should be provided with a dynamic engaging place to play. Many cities are currently faced with a high number of vacancies across their existing urban fabric. The proposal of a "Plant-a-ball Park" provides an experimental platform for criticism of play equipment design today and how it can further provide a synergy between ecologies, cities, and the populations that occupy them. This new model of equipment will promote and stimulate fun for the future of play, and create a series of miniature worlds for children to inhabit in the city."
"Playgrounds of today have become fields for designers to create safe and entertaining equipment that can foster imagination, activity, and fun for children and their parents. Contemporary play structures must address a multitude of developmental characteristics identified with growth and progression of childhood development -as well as conform to local government’s ordinances on safety. The task of enticing children outside to play has become more difficult with continued technological advancements that compete for children’s attention vs. the desire to be physically active."
"PlantaBALL PARKS creates a series of play structures that not only generate a sense of place, but also house a synergy of interventions at the site and city scale. The intended site typology for these structures are vacant urban lots. Typically there are varied levels of contamination within these sites. The BALL shell will house all of the infrastructure needed to provide the tree with irrigation, drainage, and soil, as well as acting as a structural footing for the BALL. The filtration system embedded into the shell will capture rainwater and allow groundwater recharge into the existing groundwater table."
"Connections into existing urban infrastructure will be needed to provide electricity, water, and sewage for each site. The prefabrication of the BALLS off-site allows for rapid installation and quick turnover of the identified lots into playable and vibrant surfaces within the community."
"These structures are intended to provide planning departments with a tactically urban sustainable and playful solution to their issues of land vacancies. Vacant lots are eyesores on communities and are becoming more typical in the urban fabric. BALL parks can be utilized as a temporary or permanent installation into the site. With the understanding that time and planning needs can change, the BALL structures are intended to be easily transferable but also provide an appropriate framework for redefining the contemporary play structure in flexible urban areas. They can also be utilized in existing urban parks as the standards for play equipment become more complex."
"PlantaBALL parks are an interactive, multi functional approach intended to engage children and adults in an outdoor recreational setting. This new model of equipment will promote and stimulate fun for the future of play, and create a series of miniature worlds for children to inhabit in the city."
"David Cole founding partner of Building Trust international said, 'Playgrounds don’t need to look like the playgrounds of our parents. Plant-A-Ball parks with its simple repeated forms with subtle alterations reflected in the functionality of the spheres could become signatures for youth interaction, learning and fun.'"
Project Team: Jonathan A. Scelsa, Jennifer Birkeland, Nick Mitchell, and Ilya Chistiakov.
Contributors: Marco Ciancarella, Mattia Santi, and Bernard Peng.
Constultants: AKT II Structural Engineers
For more info, click here.
All images courtesy of OP-AL.