Play and Placemaking
Combined design advice for two very different neighbourhoods in Tilburg and Delft, carried out for the Richard Kraijcek Foundation, we proposed to use play as a basis for placemaking and devised a number of strategies for renewal and transformation based on this.
Firstly the post-war modernist neighbourhood Buitenhof in Delft. The proposal advised against the introduction of another new large scale play facility and to instead focus on the connections between the buildings the public spaces and the residents themselves. With each entrance connected to an element and activity in the public space that is supervised by one of the local residents it is hoped that more social control can be exercised over the central public spaces increasing safety and reducing the potential for vandalism. The roles that neighbourhood sports coaches and positive peer groups sponsored by the Richard Krajicek Foundation can play in actively involving local children is encouraged and it is advised that this be expanded for other community leaders to include roles such as a neighbourhood gardener, skate leader, artist etc.
Next, large former rail yard adjacent to the Centre of Tilburg awaits a decision by the city on its future, here we postulate whether play can be used as an instrument for planning the future of this location. Play can take many forms and is expanded here under three headings Participatory, Placemaking and Planting.
A Participatory process can bring stakeholders and interested parties together into coalitions and groups from an early phase. A framework for the primary public space network can be established and sites located, secondary plots can remain flexible and adaptable to different uses over time depending on future developments. Using play for placemaking a number of future green locations can be developed quickly with local children. Natural materials, fast growing plants and imaginations are all that is needed to create places rich in biodiversity, ecology and meaning. Once established they can become enveloped over time with more urban functions such as sports courts, climbing walls etc. This is a phased proposal of our Into the Wild playground concept. Here it occupies the central space in the proposed plan.
The third heading is planting chosen to embed sustainability from an early phase into the locations future identity. At key locations and in the public spaces urban agriculture and community gardens are created alongside restaurants and places for mobile food markets and catering. Low impact food is a key component of sustainable cities and this location can become an anchor for reducing Tilburg’s overall ecological footprint.
The Richard Krajicek Foundation alongside Tilburg city council was the client for this proposal, it developed out of a commission to see if the location was suitable for an Into the Wild playground instead a different strategy was proposed, developing play as an instrument for planning the city.