The Interactive Playground

<p>Architect David Rockwell has some new ideas about what makes a good public playground. With movable, buildable foam blocks, his experimental playground in Brooklyn gets kids actively and creatively involved in their play.</p>
July 15, 2008, 2pm PDT | Nate Berg
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"Instead of plummeting down slides or dangling from the monkey bars, children on Saturday built polyethylene palaces from blocks shaped like triangles, clovers, rectangles and cylinders."

"They became instant abstractionists, using sturdy brushes to mix heaps of wet sand with colored chalk on the cement. And the urban planners-in-training among them took turns toying with hoses and blocks to create water irrigation systems."

"The Brownsville play center gave children a taste of what the architect David Rockwell hopes will revolutionize playground design. Mr. Rockwell, who designed the playground, brought his portable, neon-painted toy chests to Brownsville in partnership with the parks department. In the fall of 2009, a 15,000-square-foot, figure-eight-shaped permanent Imagination Playground is scheduled to open at Burling Slip in Lower Manhattan."

"The portable playground in Brownsville, which included about 150 pieces - the largest about three feet long, and none weighing more than a pound or so - earned high marks from children, though they said it should complement, not replace, jungle gyms."

"The children said they liked creating their own foam worlds and being able to tear them down on a whim and start anew. They also appreciated the cushiony feel of the pieces, which prevented scrapes and, they said, removed any shred of guilt from pounding each other with the noodles in gladiator-style fights."

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Published on Monday, July 14, 2008 in The New York Times
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