Buji Playgrounds

Playscraper, a portmanteau of playground and skyscraper, is the generating idea for the kingpin play structure of three linked playground spaces in Buji Shenzhen. The site for the playground is encircled by 11 slender residential towers standing within a dramatic mountain backdrop. As a landscape structure the Playscraper attempts to strike a balance with the extreme verticals of the architecture and surrounding mountains.

The Playscraper form begins as a solid plinth carved with tunnels worming through and into the second level. At the second level a three-story play tower occupies a parabolic space wrapped in netting similar to an aviary. The Playscraper is intended to evoke imaginative play by creating a children-scaled tower condition. Adventurous children playing atop the internal structure of the Playscraper catch views of neighboring toddler’s circus below. The circus playground, aimed at the youngest children, is encircled by a bench for watchful parents. The circus, both a place of play and performance, the ‘Center Ring’ slopes inward to a large sandpit all shaded by a dynamic mesh circus tent above.

A coral colored occupiable wall, which includes a variety of entry points and surprises such as water runnels and spigots, runs the length of the various spaces and playgrounds in the project ultimately culminating in the agility-testing terrain of the quarter pipe and racing slides. Through the walls solid mass an arching portal leads to a hexagonal ficus maze eventually ending in the maze pavilion which provide welcome shade after a disorienting stroll or game of tag.

BAM’s vision of making an experimental playground the core of a residential community is made possible by two primary factors. First Shenzhen is a place of utter newness, a city born in the 1990’s. It is the cradle of tech innovation in China and regards itself and its urbanism as entirely future focused. The mere existence of such an explosive gesture of planting, patterning, color, and materials which has become so quickly absorbed into the culture as common place, typical, or even generic, is a true testament to Shenzhen’s progressive nature and rapid future-oriented development.

The second reason which makes the Buji playgrounds feasible is the intense focus on children’s education and wellbeing after decades of single child policy. Parents, schools, and communities embrace forms of play that encourage the imaginative learning we can only form outside of the classroom. In this sense this intensely patterned and colorful tropical playground is a middle zone between the school community and the home. The playground is both a meeting place for the children and adults, a fitting center of a community by any measure.

Name of the project: Buji Playgrounds
Project category: Schools and Playgrounds
Project location: Buji District, Shenzhen
Design year: 2017
Year Built: 2019

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