Playing outdoors is vital for the healthy development of young children, and especially so in urban environments where the lack of green spaces or appropriate play spaces can be a barrier. In Mexico City, a historic water fountain at the heart of Loreto Square has been temporarily transformed into a children's haven for spontaneous play by local architecture firm Palma Studio.
This winning entry in the Urban Toys competition to design an installation that would reactivate underused urban spaces reimagines the fountain as a place where children can climb and swim, using constructed plywood ramps and a woven net. The designers say:
These obstacles produce moments of moderate risk, which encourage interaction and dynamic play. The concentric nature of the proposal also creates a series of thresholds which can be real or imaginary.
To be more specific, the ramps circle around and envelop the fountain's form, sloping up in opposite directions, which means the kids have to get creative and adventurous if they are to access the whole structure:
Access to the first ring is open at the lowest point. However, in order to get to the second ring, the child must walk at least a quarter of the way around the circle or go through a tunnel. From here, the child must overcome the third obstacle; the water and net. All these layers, thresholds and observations point are great for made-up rule play and socio-dramatic games.
That element of imaginative possibility seems to be a necessity in any good playground: nothing too structured nor static; here it's been combined with a piece of the urban landscape, transforming this once-underused element into something that the community and its children can thoroughly enjoy. To see more, visit Palma Studio, on Facebook and Instagram.