ALDO VAN EYCK THE PLAYGROUNDS AND THE CITY PDF

In , the architect Aldo van Eyck built his first playground in Amsterdam, on the Bertelmanplein. Many hundreds more followed, in a spatial experiment that has positively marked the childhood of an entire generation. Though largely disappeared, defunct and forgotten today, these playgrounds represent one of the most emblematic of architectural interventions in a pivotal time: the shift from the top down organization of space by modernist functionalist architects, towards a bottom-up architecture that literally aimed to give space to the imagination. Immediately after the Second World War, Dutch cities were in a state of dereliction.

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We—Denisa Kollarova and Anna van Lingen—live in an era in which there are not many carefully constructed playgrounds. Have we—city decision makers, architects, designers, parents, friends —forgotten to be critical? There are so many architects, artists and thinkers of the past who have proven that a playground can be much more than just generic plastic structures placed randomly, constructed by simply flipping through the pages of play equipment catalogues. One of them is Aldo van Eyck, who designed a large number of public playgrounds for the city of Amsterdam.

They played in the concrete sandpits, hung upside down on the tumbling bars or invented games in the igloo shaped climbing frames.

Aldo van Eyck, Seventeen Playgrounds is a tour guide that brings you to several of these playgrounds in the centre of Amsterdam.

Some of the playgrounds in this book are still intact, others share their space with new play equipment and some have completely been modernized, only referring to Van Eyck with a lost climbing frame or a few jumping stones and the fact that a playground remains on a spot that Van Eyck once turned into a play space. Today his playgrounds are rapidly disappearing and a new type of play equipment is taking over. Bright colours, plastic structures and animal-shaped elements seem to have set the tone, 5.

He married his fellow student Hannie van Rooijen with whom he later had two children. During his period at the Department he designed a large number of public playgrounds for the city, which he continued doing after he stopped working His best-known work is the Municipal Orphanage of Amsterdam, which gained him international recognition. Besides his work as an architect Aldo van Eyck taught at the Amsterdam Academy of Architecture and was professor at the Delft University of Technology.

From Functionalism to Structuralism After the Second World War the Dutch housing stock was both quantitatively and qualitatively falling short and on top of that Dutch cities had to deal with the post-war baby boom. Urban planning in the Netherlands needed to solve these problems and did so based on ideals of the modernist movement grouped around the CIAM.

The Urban Development Department of Amsterdam had already developed a General Expansion plan for the city in and was now continuing its execution. It followed the modernist idea that the functions living, working, recreation and traffic needed to be separated and realised building blocks in open green areas.

Meanwhile the city centre was in a state of neglect and needed a lot of improvement. The city council of Amsterdam considered demolishing Instead they chose to preserve the centre and gave Aldo van Eyck the task to make a less drastic urban renewal plan for the Nieuwmarktbuurt. Even though Van Eyck was a member of the CIAM, he criticized the extreme functionalism in post-war town planning for lacking originality.

He pleaded for a humane architecture in which the human scale was more visible. In that same year Jaap Bakema and Aldo van Eyck took over the editorship of the Dutch magazine Forum, which became their platform to promote a new architectural movement: Structuralism. Inspired by this purity the Cobra artists made childlike expressive and colourful drawings with typical subject matter as animals or fantasy creatures.

The group dissolved within three years, but Van Eyck kept a close connection to Cobra artist Constant Nieuwenhuys. He assisted Constant with his utopian work New Babylon that was inspired by the book Homo Ludens written by the Dutch historian Johan Huizinga in This book stresses the importance of the element of play in culture and society.

Constant worked on the project from until Youth and the element of play in daily life became widely appreciated in several cultural fields and also in social sciences the child gained a more important status.

In he published the bestseller Baby and Child Care in which he advised parents to be more flexible with their children and to treat their children as individuals. Gradually children became accepted as integral members of society.

Making Playgrounds Public After many complaints about poor playing conditions for children in Amsterdam, upper-class citizens created the first playground of the city in on the Eerste Weteringplantsoen. Not much later a few playground-trusts arose throughout the city. Access to these supervised and closed-off playgrounds was restricted by membership.

Apart from these there were barely any public playgrounds. But the latter became difficult with the increasing number of cars that slowly drove them off the streets. Jakoba Mulder, second in charge of the Public Works Department, started the process of making playgrounds public.

In she commissioned Van Eyck to design the first public playground, From then on the department made sure that each neighbourhood was provided with at least one public playground. In total Van Eyck designed over seven hundred playgrounds that together created a web throughout Amsterdam, giving children their own recognizable domain in the city.

The Locations The Urban Development Department wanted each neighbourhood in Amsterdam to have its own public playground and gave the Site Preparation Service the task to designate the terrains that could be used to realize this plan.

Locations were found throughout the various parks of Amsterdam and on the traditional squares in the middle of housing blocks in the older parts of the city centre, such as here at the Herenmarkt. Sometimes room was made by broadening the sidewalk or even with the creation of a square where traffic intersections used to be.

Truly remarkable is the fact that the playgrounds were often placed on derelict sites previously used as garbage dumps or hidden behind a fence, surrounded by old walls and ramshackle buildings. In contrast to the authoritarian topdown town planning of the Urban Development Department, Aldo van Eyck adjusted his designs to the already existing urban layout.

During his period at the Department he designed a large number of public playgrounds for the city, which he continued doing after he stopped working 12 Aldo van Eyck was an active member of the CIAM International Congresses of Modern Architecture , later co-founder of Team X and one of the first and most influential representatives of Structuralism.

Published on Jan 13, Go explore.

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Aldo van Eyck and the City as Play­ground

These public playgrounds were located in parks, squares, and derelict sites, and consisted of minimalistic aesthetic play equipment that was supposed to stimulate the creativity of children. Over the last decades, these playgrounds have been studied by sociologists, theorists of art and architecture, and psychologists. However, it is argued that the standardization e. This standardization, which was arguably the result of the aesthetic motives of the designer, might be appealing to children when simply looking at the equipment, but it is not of overriding importance to them when playing in it. Indeed, a recent study indicates that the affordances provided by messy structures appear to have a greater appeal to playing children. The idea that art is an illusion divorced from real life must therefore be abandoned.

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Aldo van Eyck’s Playgrounds: Aesthetics, Affordances, and Creativity

We—Denisa Kollarova and Anna van Lingen—live in an era in which there are not many carefully constructed playgrounds. Have we—city decision makers, architects, designers, parents, friends —forgotten to be critical? There are so many architects, artists and thinkers of the past who have proven that a playground can be much more than just generic plastic structures placed randomly, constructed by simply flipping through the pages of play equipment catalogues. One of them is Aldo van Eyck, who designed a large number of public playgrounds for the city of Amsterdam. They played in the concrete sandpits, hung upside down on the tumbling bars or invented games in the igloo shaped climbing frames. Aldo van Eyck, Seventeen Playgrounds is a tour guide that brings you to several of these playgrounds in the centre of Amsterdam. Some of the playgrounds in this book are still intact, others share their space with new play equipment and some have completely been modernized, only referring to Van Eyck with a lost climbing frame or a few jumping stones and the fact that a playground remains on a spot that Van Eyck once turned into a play space.

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Amsterdam's Seventeen Playgrounds: Aldo van Eyck's Neglected Legacy

The Dutch Structuralist architect Aldo van Eyck left his mark in Amsterdam — not only in the form of buildings but also, perhaps surprisingly, in the form of urban playgrounds. Over the course of his career he created a network of more than playgrounds throughout the capital. Today, only a handful of these remain intact. The following extract from the book seeks to introduce the project, and describe its urgency. We live in an era in which there are not many carefully constructed playgrounds.

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This project educates cities to understand playground as an opportunity for experimenting and it argues against the present understanding of playground to be a product, which can be purchased in the online catalogue, copy-pasted into any type of environment. Bright colours, plastic structures and animal-shaped elements seem to have set the tone, leaving little room for the imagination. It is of great importance that we—citizens, parents, designers, architects, city decision makers—realise the necessity of high quality playgrounds. City decision makers, politicians, parents, designers and architects should realise that children spaces are as important as other examples of the build environment.

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