Adobe Playground Designed by Children and Architects

playgroundBonnie Alter/CC BY 2.0

It looks like something from outer space plunked down in London's busy river-side complex, the South Bank. The architects, Small Earth, call it a Super Adobe, but it's clear these kids call it fun--even on a miserable rainy day.

Made out of rammed earth, these buildings have travelled the world. Fifty were built in Nepal for an orphans' village, now these have been constructed with pupils from a nursery school in west London.

playgroundBonnie Alter/CC BY 2.0

Small Earth built this complex in six weeks this past summer using very simple and basic materials and organic produce to support the Permaculture element of the domes.

playgroundBonnie Alter/CC BY 2.0

The playground is made from earth-filled tubes covered with plaster. The long fabric tubes filled with adobe (earth, sand, cement or lime) take the form of domes which are an easy construction.

The concept was developed by Iranian architect Nader Khalili who created his Super Adobe system in 1984, in response to a NASA call for designs for human settlements on the Moon and Mars. Then it was adapted for humanitarian projects such as emergency shelters during the Gulf Wars. He later founded the California Institute of Earth Art and Architecture (Cal-Earth), where he taught his Super adobe building technique.

playgroundBonnie Alter/CC BY 2.0

The adobe concept can be used for single and double-curved walls. Think of bunkers during war times, although these were usually made of sand. The buildings are environmentally friendly, ecologically sound and very versatile and affordable.

playgroundBonnie Alter/CC BY 2.0

Advice was provided by the young students at Hounslow Heath Infant and Nursery School. They already had a large adobe playground at their school. It was built to reduce noise pollution from planes passing overhead since it is located under the Heathrow airport flight path.

adobe-playBonnie Alter/CC BY 2.0 April, 2014

It's two years later. The play structure is hot pink now and a lot livelier and more attractive than dingy brown. Nothing like a good coat of paint.

Tags: Architecture | London | Sustainable Development


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