Brutalist playgrounds and laundry

Brutalist playgrounds and laundry


Here’s a quick quiz for you dear readers: The picture below shows a few things that is in our new backyard – soil covering Samson’s hole digging, clothes on a line, hidden fence flags and a fire bowl for burning things….So the question is, what would have been considered a violation in our old neighborhood? Brutalists playgrounds and laundry

If you guessed the hanging clothes you would have been right!

When we moved into our old house close to 30 years ago, we had to agree in the purchase papers not to have a clothesline in our yard with which to hang clothes on! In these days of energy awareness, it just seems wrong that we opt to use an appliance instead of Mother Nature’s own energy in the form of sun and wind. Times have changed and I sleep all the better for it…(there’s nothing like sleeping in sheets that have hung outside and feeling that one has done their part for the environment).

“It’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye”: an appreciation of brutalist playgrounds
The architecture style Brutalism (think, Fort Book at UofT ) — whose literal definition is “raw concrete” — certainly does not inspire visions of fun, child-friendly, safe environments. But, the post-WWII movement that brought us buildings like Le Corbusier’s famous Palace of Assembly in Chandigarh, India, also brought us many less-known government complexes and apartment blocks in Europe and the Americas. Any place you expect kids, you need a playground — and if you expect kids at a Brutalist site, that playground’s gonna be Brutalist.

Web Urbanist reports on an installation by artist Simon Terrell and the collective Assemble at the headquarters of the Royal Institute of British Architects in London. The installation recreates (in high-density foam, thank goodness) the Brutalist playgrounds from those mid-century halcyon days before they invented safety. Just looking at them makes my healed-over childhood skinned elbows ring with phantom pain. My personal favourite is the evil-looking tilt-a-whirl construction at the Churchill Gardens playground, with stepping stones leading to it that resemble the Devil’s Postpile in California.

Joking aside, the rationale behind Brutalism and its playgrounds is fascinating; coming immediately after — and making a serious comment on — the destruction of the “frivolous” architecture of the previous decades in the crucible of World War II. And as someone who believes that today’s kids are being coddled a bit more than they should be, I appreciate that these playgrounds taught kids to assess risk and harden themselves. (Just maybe not with scar tissue…!)