PLAY is a story of 244 playgrounds across Rotterdam. It is a photo essay about the contemporary public spaces for play, about design culture, design history, materiality, our relationship to play and nature within the urban environments, and many other topics.

The power of this project is in its numbers, it offers a documentation of a system of Rotterdam’s public playground spaces across 12 boroughs. And critically reflects on this system.

Playgrounds are in many ways public functional utility spaces created and regulated with a specific age group in mind. Overtime the regulations have expanded, there are many standardised features from materials to equipment, paving, fencing. With this project we aim to emphasise that it is a public space where most young people encounter culture and beauty of design and urban environment for the first time – from the design of the play object, to wall art, use of colour and material pallet, beauty of nature.

Playgrounds wear out fast. Many of the modern materials introduced in the last decades such as rubber mats, solid plastic and cast rubber shapes are starting to reach their end of life cycle – large structures and surfaces, potentially vast volumes of waste. Designing with the aim to reuse and recycle is an obvious next step.

Each playground is captured in three frames: birds-eye view (which looks at the context), street view (focusing on the microcosm of the playgrounds), and detail (craftsmanship). This project offers a comprehensive overview of the current state of Rotterdam playgrounds, with its high-lights and challenges.

A project in collaboration with Sanne van den Breemer
With support from Creative Industry Fund NL, and the Van Eesteren-Fluck & Van Lohuizen Foundation (EFL).