What if a neighborhood came together to build a playground on an empty lot? It's cool, but it's been done before. Taking it a step further, what if that playground was made from recycled household materials from the neighboring homes? Rotterdam-based BOARD presented that very idea in its “The Recycled Apartment” proposal. The Recycled Apartment won second prize at the Richard Krajicek Foundation Playground awards, and it's one of the most interesting ideas that has evolved from the urban pocket park movement.
BOARD began its design by first recognizing the competition organizers’ wish to involve the surrounding buildings as much as possible. The design team enlarged a typical neighboring apartment floorplan by 500% and presented it as the ground plan of the new playground. Even at this scale, the thought was that this reproduction would be easily identified and lead to a strong sense of ownership among the residents.
However, the main sense of community ownership and engagement will ultimately come from the materials that the residents will donate to the development of the playgrounds. Materials, such as old tiles, clothes, coins, bottles, pallets, wheels, corks, and picture frames, will be collected from residents to build the playground. That means that final design decisions will be made by the neighborhood, helping residents to identify more with the park. Each pocket playground will therefore become unique, and BOARD suggests that this will provide for an economically sustainable business model.
The competition jurors saw the benefit of the design, both in principle and sustainability. By collecting recyclable materials from the local residents the energy required to transport new materials to the playground will be reduced significantly. The design also helps fight global warming by providing the local communities around the playground with regional gardens and recreation areas.
The idea of pocket playgrounds made from recycled materials from the neighborhoods is a great approach to the ever-changing global market and global climate. BOARD may have proposed this design for the Netherlands, but this can be applied in any developed country around the world – and it should!