Ad-hoc play spaces

Dissatisfied by their city’s lack of play space, Jordanian mothers and architects Sarah Abdul Majid and Sandra Hiari have designed a modular system to create informal playgrounds.

Q. How did you come to work together? We were both members of the design and planning team of the Amman 2025 master plan developed for the Greater Amman Municipality. Sarah is an urban designer and a graduate of the Architectural Association and her works advances the ideal of landscape urbanism, while Sandra is an urban planner and a graduate of the City College of New York. Her work focuses on governance and advancing urban performance. Given our similar visions yet different

approaches to urbanism, we decided to collaborate on solving one persistent problem: the absence of public playgrounds in dense urban communities.

Q. Why did you design the Playscapes system? It was the natural outcome of two mothers/local designers who acknowledged the struggle to find public open space and play equipment in the city. Playscapes quickly surfaced as we both engaged in conversations about simple, affordable and immediate design solutions. It’s a simple equation: two

mothers/local designers + no open spaces = public space installation

Q. What was your inspiration for the design? Playscapes was designed as an urban intervention in the form of a mobile, multi- purpose installation that derives its inspiration from Jordanian landscapes. The prototype itself was inspired by local wooden pallets, their structure, ease of mobility and versatility were qualities that we were looking for.

Q. How does the system work? The prototype is a series of three receding and vertically stacked square wooden frames, in addition to wooden poles and channels that ensure dry and easy assembly without the need for nails or screws. Playscapes aims to create a series of light

modular prototypes that can be moved around from one city or village to another within Jordan, reinterpreting itself as an installation. Playscapes can be arranged in a variety of

assembly schemes based on spatial limitations and desired use of the installation. The

arrangements provide multiple opportunities for play such as play huts, bridges, climbing and seating arrangements.

Q. How can the system benefit increasingly dense urban spaces? As city administrations are tasked to provide recreational facilities for a growing young demographic, Playscapes offers an option that is independent of the need for slow bureaucratic procedures to realise: a park can be simply assembled from placing pieces with each other. All is needed is a suitable piece of land.

Q. How has the system been received? Playscapes has been attracting local and international attention, due to the novelty and simplicity of its design idea. We are being contacted by various individuals around the globe who are interested in purchasing the system. We are currently considering the installation of Playscapes in a public park or vacant land spot through a collaboration with a youth and/or refugee targeted agency. 38

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