Azure - - CONTENTS - WORDS _Danny Sinopoli PHO­TOGRAPHS _Amey Kan­dal­gaonkar

A play­ground in Shang­hai has its users see­ing red – in a good way

One of the lat­est in­ter­ven­tions by 100architects of Shang­hai has its users see­ing red – in a good way. An open-air crim­son swath cov­er­ing 245 square me­tres of an oth­er­wise grey re­tail plaza, the Red Planet play­ground, as the ar­chi­tects have called it, is lo­cated in one of their home city’s big­gest shop­ping cen­tres. De­signed to at­tract cus­tomers to the mall and to foster in­ter­ac­tion among those who use it, the per­ma­nent in­stal­la­tion fea­tures or­ga­nized spa­ces for a va­ri­ety of ac­tiv­i­ties atop a vi­brant patch of PVC sport floor­ing. One end of the play­ground is de­fined by a run­ning track. The other side con­tains a “bub­bling” bas­ket­ball court dot­ted with mounds that even the small­est chil­dren can climb, sit on and slide down. Ac­cord­ing to the ar­chi­tects, who spe­cial­ize in street ar­chi­tec­ture and once cov­ered Mex­ico City’s main plaza with a gi­ant, Mayan-in­spired paint­ing, many chil­dren have been us­ing the playspace “in ways we did not imag­ine at first,” cre­at­ing their own games among the hillocks and pyra­mids. Those pyra­mids, made of wood and steel, are clad with chalk­board, al­low­ing kids to use them as draw­ing sur­faces. Other fea­tures in­clude whim­si­cal slanted umbrellas and benches for par­ents. Strate­gi­cally placed LEDS il­lu­mi­nate the site, which, if a Youtube video show­ing chil­dren of all ages de­light­ing in the project is any in­di­ca­tion, has given the plaza new life.

The PVC sport floor­ing on which the play­ground sits was cho­sen for its soft­ness and dura­bil­ity. Ex­ist­ing street fur­ni­ture, such as this arch par­tially wrapped in red metal, was co-opted by the in­stal­la­tion, adding to its sur­re­al­ity. A pair of umbrellas cap the site’s largest mound, which houses grey metal tiers for climb­ing and sit­ting. The run­ning track that serves as a border for one side of the site weaves around chalk­board pyra­mids.

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