We’ve been talking and thinking a lot about playgrounds in Amsterdam, not least because Penny is freshly returned from a trip over there and very enthusiastic.  However, as is usually the case, once we started making connections to and through Amsterdam’s playspaces they seemed to be everywhere!

We’ve had this book on the project’s bookshelf since the beginning:


and it’s a remarkably interesting collection of images, interviews and writing that starts with a generous notion of play that includes playgrounds, public art and urban golf.

The authors – a theorist and an architecture firm – then go on to address how places for play enable connections between people, and consider how this understanding might develop new models for design practice.

There is an excellent review of it here.

Some of the playgrounds in this book are in Amsterdam and designed by Aldo van Eyck, who in his career starting at Amsterdam Public Works provided the designs for some 700 playgrounds across the city, and the inspiration for many more across the world.  I grew up in Southern California, scrambling around the metal tumbling bars that he’d designed some 40 years and 10,000 miles away.

There’s an excellent article spanning his career, playgrounds and influence here, including some lovely pictures of his plans and sites.  Central to his design strategy was an understanding of how these often small locations tied together to create a network of play opportunities throughout the city, places where ‘ the seeds of community were sewn, where the city was not to be viewed or consumed but experienced.’   Archis No. 3, 2002 (where this article comes from) also offers a “‘psychogeographic cycle tour of Amsterdam playgrounds by Aldo van Eyck’, encompassing the sites of about 40 playgrounds within the city’s ring road.

For those seeking a more armchair-based exploration, Sara Winter has a lovely set of images up on Flickr, and more on her blog.

Below is a little taster.