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Which clippings match 'Participatory Process' keyword pg.1 of 1
16 NOVEMBER 2014

The school which encourages risk-taking through open-ended play

"It sounds like a child's dream and a parent's nightmare – a school with no rules. But at Swanson School in Auckland, New Zealand, a blind eye is turned at break time while the kids run amok outside. Dani Isdale joins the children as they climb trees, skid around on bikes and fire makeshift weapons – it's all allowed and even encouraged.

'The need to wrap up our kids in cotton wool and not give them an opportunity to hurt themselves – you are actually taking away a lot of learning opportunities,' says principal Bruce McLachlan. When playtime ends, serious learning begins and he says the children are much more receptive, confident and cooperative after their 'free range' play. But he does admit to Dani that there is just one rule – the kids aren't allowed to kill each other. They love it, but do parents think he's gone too far?"

(Dani Isdale, 21 October 2014, SBS Dateline)

[Bruce McLachlan, the principal of Swanson School in Auckland, Aotearoa New Zealand believes that 'wrapping children in cotton wool' is more risky in the long–term than giving them the freedom to set their own rules in the playground]

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Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) • ad-hocagency of access and engagementanarchic freedomAotearoa New ZealandAuckland • breaktime • Bruce McLachlan • climbing trees • cobbled togetherexploration of unfolding possibilitiesexposure to riskfree range play • Grant Schofield • health and safety cultureimpromptu playimprovisationjerry-builtjunk playgroundlearning by doingmake-do playgroundsmakeshift • makeshift weapons • no rules • open spacesopen-ended play spacesparticipatory processpersonal responsibilityplace for childrenplay spacesplayscapesplaytimerisk-taking • SBS • SBS Dateline • school principal • scriptible spacessmooth phenomenal spacesocial constructionismspaces for children • Swanson School • turning a blind eye • universal no-fault personal accident injury scheme • wrapping children in cotton woo

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
10 AUGUST 2012

Touch me, hold me: Franz West's anti-modernist aesthetic

"'Don't Touch' is an unspoken warning in any art museum. Sometimes an institution might post a sign explaining to visitors why touching the art on view is bad – not just for the obvious catastrophic reasons, but because even oils from hands that appear to be clean can cause incremental damage. Mostly, though, visitors already know what they are (or, rather, aren't) supposed to do in art's presence.

Touch is a privilege typically reserved for the artist who made the art, as well as its professional caretakers. In fact, 'the artist's touch' has been a central value in Western art for hundreds of years.

By the start of the 1960s, with the Abstract Expressionist generation of American painters riding high, it had even become something of a fetish. The loaded brush, the whiplash line, poured paint, the palette knife and sponge – signs of distinctive gestures mattered, almost like handwriting. De–mythologizing the artist's touch was left to Andy Warhol, who announced that he instead wanted to be a machine, and to Sol LeWitt and his idea–oriented cohort of Conceptual artists. They pulled the plug for good.

Enter Franz West, the impish Viennese artist whose compelling retrospective is at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Born in 1947, West is a generation younger than Warhol and LeWitt. The fetish for the artist's touch having been retired just before he arrived on the scene, he took the next step. In the mid–1970s, West handed things over to the audience.

Literally.

Wrapping pieces of wood and cardboard and lengths of wire with gauze, coating it in plaster or papier mâché and painting the whole thing white, West made sculptures that the audience was meant to pick up, manipulate, examine at close range, hang on an arm or around the neck, or even stick one's face into. The shapes are abstract. But often, part of the sculpture suggests a handle – a direct visual invitation to audience participation. Silently it says, Touch me, hold me.

Other shapes appear designed to fit around the neck, under the arm or on other embraceable parts of the body. Or, they echo bodily orifices. (Can a sculpture have a belly button?) A glass bottle at the end of a long stick, both embedded in lumpy papier mâché, looks like a ritual implement meant to be passed around in some primitive religious ceremony.

These materials also evoke the damaged condition art holds in contemporary life. Like a cast made for a broken limb, white plaster and gauze result in sculptures bound in a medical dressing.

West calls these sculptures 'Passstücke' –– originally translated as 'fitting pieces' (passende Stücke) but now referred to as 'adaptives.' In biology, adaptation is a structure or form modified to fit a changing environment. West's touch–me sculptures attempted the same for art's new circumstance."

(Los Angeles Times, 31 March 2009)

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2009 • Abstract Expressionist • adaptives (art) • affordancesAndy Warhol • anti-modernist aesthetic • artart museumartist • arts new circumstance • audienceAustrian artistcleanlinessconceptual art • dont touch • examine • Franz West • handlehold me • incremental damage • instructions for use • LACMA • loaded brush • Los Angeles County Museum of ArtLos Angeles Times • manipulate • mid-1970s • paper macheparticipationparticipatory process • passende stucke • passstucke • pick up • ritual implement • sculptorsculptureSol LeWitt • the artists touch • touchtouch me • touching • visual invitation • warning • western art

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
03 JULY 2012

BTS Design d'Espace Toulon: Junk Playground

"Lors des bombardements allemand de la seconde guerre mondiale, Londres à été une des villes les plus détruite. On y trouvait fréquemment des espaces vide crée entre deux immeubles démolis et bourrés de gravats. Ces espaces vides, terrains vagues, en friche, "poubelles" en attente d'être reconstruit furent pendant une période des espaces de terrains de jeux consacré exclusivement aux enfants. L'idée était de donner un lieu spécifique pour que les enfants à la fois s'exprime librement, évite l'ennuie et l'inactivité qui peuvent conduire à la délinquance et participe à leurs façon à la période de reconstruction.

Ces terrains d'aventures, appelés Junk playground (terrains vague) ont été des espaces de libertés encadré ou les enfants construisirent à partir des gravats des "sculptures installation et autres inventions".

La fabrication par lui même (de l'enfant) de ses propres jeux par la maîtrise des outils (marteau, scie...) furent une expérience inédite et fondamentale dans l'approche citoyenne et pédagogique du rôle du jeu comme source d'épanouissement et d'éveil des consciences. La liberté quasi anarchique de ces terrains, laissant à l'enfant la responsabilité de ses actes, en étant acteur de sa propre aventures comme facteur de régénération pour une société pacifié, sans violence ou chacun peut s'exprimer et trouver sa place de citoyen. Cette expérience éphémère n'a pas survécu aux règles de sécurité, aux normes. Mais aussi aux formatages d'équipements modulaires produits en masse ou l'enfant n'est plus l'acteur (car exclu du processus de conception) mais simple utilisateur, spectateur, consommateur et non plus comme citoyen."

(Éric Malaterre, 03/01/2011, BTS Design d'Espace Toulon)

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CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
03 JULY 2012

Sense of adventure: what happened to playgrounds that give children space?

Aldo "Van Eyck believed playgrounds should challenge a child's imagination without jarring the adult's aesthetic sensibilities. His abstract, elementary forms – often manufactured out of metal tubes like modernist furniture – were meant to belong in a well–mannered streetscape. During the same period in Britain, however, we were developing a tradition of playground design that was almost diametrically opposed. The first 'junk' playgrounds emerged amid the rubble of the Blitz, and the results were far less polite. Consisting of makeshift structures cobbled together out of roof beams and detritus, they were often designed with the assistance of the children themselves. That essential character survives today in descendants such as Glamis Adventure Playground in Shadwell, east London, a riot of skew–whiff woodwork and clashing colours, and an odd hybrid of post–war austerity and postmodern assemblage.

The junk playground model was created by the Danish architect Carl Theodor Sorensen, who believed playgrounds should reflect the imagination of the child not the architect. In 1943, having observed the creative way children play in construction sites, he developed the prototype junk playground on the Emdrup housing estate in Copenhagen.

The concept was brought to Britain by Lady Allen of Hurtwood, who tested it out on the site of a bombed church in Camberwell and then built dozens of what she called 'adventure playgrounds' – the term 'junk' tended to turn local mothers into nimbys. Not only did Allen feel that ordinary playgrounds were sterile places ('it is little wonder that [children] prefer the dumps of rough wood and piles of bricks and rubbish of the bombed sites'), but she believed in the healing effects of exposing children to the urban scars of warfare. At the same time, having them take part in the post–war reconstruction effort was deemed a good way of shaping model citizens.

Essentially, all playgrounds are designed to do the same thing: to help children develop their abilities, use up excess energy and keep them off the streets. But the ideology of the adventure playground is interesting for several reasons. First, there's the notion of not restricting children to the repetitive motions of the slide or swing, because the sooner you reach the technical limits of the equipment, the sooner you have to stretch those limits – hence all those swings you see coiled around the crossbar. The adventure playground was designed to liberate the wild thing within and, by exposing children to risk, teach them personal responsibility (all forms of play are underpinned by some form of didactism, so it's worth reminding ourselves that this is also simply more fun). Just as crucially, it was intrinsic to the concept that children be involved in designing the playgrounds, dreaming up weird structures and adapting them later by tacking on extra elements. This participatory dimension, managed by volunteer play leaders, is key to the development of their creativity.

It's curious how much the ethos of the adventure playground chimes with the language of a new era of design today: a 'participatory' process, recycled materials, an adaptive product. It doesn't sound like the 1940s. But equally valuable is the zone of exception that the adventure playground represents in the city, one of improvisation and informality that, pace Van Eyck, does not blend in to a polite streetscape.

Today, there are few true adventure playgrounds left, but occasionally another is built that follows all the essential tenets, such as the Kilburn Grange Park playground in north London, designed last year by Erect Architecture and based on the ideas of local kids. Increasingly, though, 'adventure playgrounds' are produced by specialist manufacturers and merely designed to look rustic. You can't adapt them, or at least anyone who tried would be carted off. These are the products of a health and safety culture that watered down adventure playgrounds in the 1980s and 90s. There was a minor revival a few years ago, when the Labour government invested £230m in new play spaces across England, but the coalition government freed that budget up for other uses, so it was short–lived. And now, with the cuts, several adventure playgrounds, including the giant ones in Battersea and Kilburn, face losing the play workers that make such playgrounds what they are.

It's worth remembering just how cheap and yet how luxurious these spaces are. We should let kids loose on this new breed of sanitised playground, to inject a little of the old spirit in them. I hear the builder behind Kilburn Grange Park salvaged the formwork from Zaha Hadid's Olympic diving towers – that could come in handy."

(Justin McGuirk, Tuesday 3 July 2012 15.40 BST, The Guardian)

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1940s19431980s1990sad-hocadventure playgroundAldo van EyckAlfred Trachselausterity • Battersea • bomb site • Camberwell • Carl Theodor Sorensen • challenge imagination • childhood imaginationchildren • clashing colours • coalition governmentcobbled together • construction site • CopenhagencreativityDanishDenmarkdetritus • didactic • didactism • dream up • elementary forms • Emdrup housing estate • Empress Frederick • engagement • Erect Architecture • exposure to risk • formwork • free expressionfun • Glamis Adventure Playground • healing effects • health and safety culturehybridimaginationimprovisation • informality • junkjunk playgroundjunk playgrounds • Justin McGuirk • Kilburn Grange Park • Labour governmentLady Allen of Hurtwoodlearningmakeshiftmodel citizenmodernismmodernist aestheticmodernist furniture • new era of design • NIMBY • open-endedopen-ended play spacesparticipatoryparticipatory processpersonal responsibilityplay • play leader • play spaces • play worker • playground • playground design • playscapespost-war • post-war reconstruction • postmodern assemblagerecycled materialsrisk-takingRobinson Crusoe • rough wood • rubbishrustic • salvaged • sanitised • scriptible spaces • Shadwell • skew-whiff • sterile placesstreetscape • Theodor Sorenson • urban scars • warfare • weird structures • Zaha Hadid

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
13 JUNE 2010

Open-ended play environments enable rich learning experiences

"Children learn about themselves, others and the world they live in through play. Outdoor environments for play and learning can provide rich experiences for children who seek fantasy and adventure and are innately curious about nature. Children's environments, particularly school and neighbourhood playgrounds, parks and gardens, have the potential to facilitate learning through social, emotional, cognitive and creative opportunities. Unfortunately, in America, the play and learning potential for many outdoor play spaces is underdeveloped."

(Lauri Macmillan Johnson)

Fig.1 The Adventure Playground, 160 University Avenue, Berkeley, California is an example of an open–ended play environment.

Fig.2 commercially available play environments often work to regulate engagement according to social norms.

[3] Johnson, L. M. (2004). American Playgrounds and Schoolyards – A Time for Change. In School of Landscape Architecture. Tempe, AZ, The University of Arizona Press.

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CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
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