PLAYGROUND ARCHITECTURE | Rockwell Group
The Imagination Playground is a playspace that encourages child-directed, unstructured free play. With a focus on loose parts, Imagination Playground offers a changing array of elements that allows children to constantly reconfigure their environment and to design their own course of play. Giant foam blocks, mats, wagons, fabric and crates provide the creative potential for children to play, dream, build and explore endless possibilities.
Imagination Playground is available in a variety of ways:
Imagination Playground Parks
Image : Imagination Playground, Sound pipes. Burling Slip, New York City.
The Park is a site-specific concept that can be designed and conditioned for any place or community. It includes a full set of Imagination Playground Loose Parts and a sculpted landscape, as well as sand and water installations. The flagship Imagination Playground Park at Burling Slip, South Street Seaport, New York City, opened in July 2010. The park was realized by Rockwell Group in collaboration with the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, after 5 years of research, development, focus groups and testing.
In a Box
The “In a Box” model is a kit of parts suitable for a variety of outdoor and indoor sites. It offers an easy-to-install, cost effective means to offer their children opportunities for unstructured, free play. The set includes a sturdy storage unit on wheels, Imagination Playground Blocks, and a starter kit of found parts. The Imagination Playground in a Box can be used on its own or as an addition to an existing playspace.
In a Cart
The “In a Cart” version includes a full set of Imagination Playground Blocks housed in a storage unit that is easily moved through a standard door width for both indoor and outdoor use. This versatile set is an ideal solution for sites that do not need a secured container but a cover for the cart is sold separately.
The Rockwell Group has partnered with KaBOOM!, the leading national non-profit organization dedicated to bringing play to kids everywhere.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I get the imagination playground blocks in different colors?
Imagination Playground Blocks only come in one color in order to facilitate more imaginative play, without any distraction or competition that might arise from having multi-colored toys.
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Again like many of the previous projects looked at, the child is encouraged to use their imagination through self-directed, free play. Some of the basic goals of the Imagination Playground are the same as Aldo van Eyck’s for his playground designs of the 1950s and 60s in Amsterdam. Both playground designs utilize geometric shapes to facilitate play and imagination. Van Eyck believed that play apparatus that captured the likeness of animals hindered imagination. The objects of the Imagination Playground range from simple geometric shapes to slightly more intricate ones that can be better used to funnel sound, direct water flow, or shape sand.
Static or Dynamic
Although, Rockwell and van Eyck’s playground designs shared a common goal, the methods in which they are enabled are quite the opposite. van Eyck’s designs for urban playgrounds consisted mainly of static objects bolted to the ground. The nature of these apparatus facilitated climbing and jumping, developing the gross motor skills of children. The Imagination Playground emphasizes the use of movable “Loose Parts” that can be organized in an endless number of configurations. Since the early 1900s, educators have attributed playing with blocks to development cognitive and social skills of children.
Material in the playgrounds of van Eyck and the Imagination Playground are important toward the type of play that is facilitated. Common features such as sand and water are still staples in the playgrounds even though there is a 50 year difference in the times of their conception and construction.
Science and social conditions of the era also have great influence over the design of playgrounds. In the post-war era that van Eyck was building, materials such as anodised aluminium was a scarce commodity and its use was banned. It was only until 1954 that the ban was lifted and climbing frames could be made with aluminium. Aluminium was the preferred building material since it was found that galvanized steel tubing would rust and stain. The same goes for the Imagination Playground. Only advances in science and technology have allowed for the large blue foam blocks can be make of “a cross-linked polyethylene foam manufactured in the United States. The closed-cell foam is soft, lightweight, waterproof, and biodegradable. It is resistant to sun, heat, mold, mildew, corrosion and microorganisms. These highly durable blocks can be transported to a landfill or returned to the manufacturer to be recycled when they are no longer wanted on the playground.” As well as, be “non-toxic and resistant to germs, mold and mildew. They are sturdy enough to withstand the elements and soft enough to for children to play with safely. The particular type of molecular linking used to bond the foam ensures that when exposed to an open fire the blue blocks will smolder, but not catch fire. All products meet ASTM and CPSC standards.”