January 1 2008

CARVE: Playground Equipment of the Future

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Dutch design firm CARVE creates innovative and playful playground/park equipment. What child would not want to spend his or her recess exploring the "walhalla" playground (shown above). Two vertical mesh screens enclose a series of undulating ribbons. The ribbons undulate to become walking surfaces at some points, walls at others, ceilings at yet others. The surface of the ribbons us primarily orange metal mesh but that too changes to become rope mesh or simply open grid where appropriate to create dynamic space within the structure. The exterior vertical screens have climbing holds place intermittently on them to allow children to climb around on the exterior surface. Occasionally the children may find a strangely shaped opening in the mesh where they can enter and exit the play structure.

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The concept behind the structure is ingenious. It appears as though (roughly translated from Dutch) that the design came about as a result of requests for space saving and space defining playground equipment. The designers took a typical 80 sq. meter playground and sliced it into strips. The strips were then stacked and enclosed in a metal mesh wall. The strips are allowed to undulate because they are now free from the ground. The playground can now be used as a bounding space (wall / screen) because it is vertically stacked. Shown in the photo above the "walhalla" forms the edge of a soccer field. The goal is visible if you look carefully through the structure.

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Other play ground equipment designs by CARVE are also worth studying. It is refreshing to see such good design applied to children's playgrounds. Children have an incredible propensity to imagine their surroundings as something wonderful, and so imagine if they can play on structures like these. This project reminds me somewhat of Tschumi's floating canopies at La Villette but are definitely more dutch modern than postmodern.

The walhalla design was nominated for the Dutch Design Award in 2006. More information about CARVE and walhalla can be found on the designers website or from the manufacturer's product page.

For more interesting playground equipment please visit the Mobius Climber post...

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January 18th, 2008 at 3:51 AM


the concept for these playgrounds is amazing! the dutch always come up with the best ideas for dense developments, although just looking at the metal cages makes me a tad claustrophobic.

January 20th, 2008 at 3:50 PM


I agree. Claustrophobia is a definite possibility. I also wonder about escape in case of an emergency... maybe the whole side could flip down and dump all the kids onto the ground... haha... then again... what is fun about a completely safe playground.

April 28th, 2008 at 4:54 PM


i have never seen anything like it!!!!!!! how in the world do you git in it ???? it looks so cool and so fun were did you find something like that!!!!!

February 24th, 2009 at 8:50 PM


What if a kid got hurt while in there and was in need of a Stretcher. How would you go about getting in there?

April 10th, 2009 at 5:36 AM


The design is smart. It's no more claustrophobic than Mcdonalds, and it's safer too. You can see your children the whole time they are playing. In case of emergency, the mesh just needs to be removable...