KWY.studio designs “whimsical” marble play sculptures in Denmark

Portuguese practice KWY.studio worked with artist studio Superflex and local schoolchildren to create this series of five pink marble play sculptures in Billund, Denmark.

Named Play Contract, the structures were designed to be “informed by children’s thoughts about play”.

Created for Danish organisation Capital of Children, each of the five small marble structures incorporates covered areas, steps and pathways to reframe how both adults and children interact with the surrounding landscape.

Park installation by KWY studio
KWY.studio has built marble sculptures in a park in Billund

“Most [playgrounds] are designed and built based on grown-ups’ notions of children and how they should behave,” explained KWY.studio.

“With Play Contract, the balance of power is tipped, and now it’s the children’s turn to devise a playful space for themselves and grown-ups,” it continued.

“What kinds of play equipment should be in such a playground? What kind of playground would they like to have when they grow up?

A pink marble sculpture by KWY Studio
The sculptures are based on designs made by schoolchildren

The play structures were devised at a workshop where 122 schoolchildren used pink Lego bricks to create models.

These models were then analysed to determine a range of forms, such as gate, amphitheatre and tower, along with a series of proposed uses, such as climb, swing, sit, slide and jump, which informed the final designs.

A child climbing a marble sculpture
Children are encouraged to climb and play on the sculptures

“The process was to generate a unique result from the children’s models while retaining everyone’s ideas,” said the practice.

“All models were carefully traced, and multiple combinations were layered and intersected into new configurations.”

“At the end it is as if every model of every child is there composing a city, of which parts have been carefully uncovered for what is to be a new everlasting future,” it continued.

The studio built the five structures from┬ápink marble in order achieve a feeling of “timelessness”, which was intended to evoke a sense of curiosity around who designed the structures and why.

“Visits to quarries and workshops informed how the material was to be used, retaining both natural traces as well as man-made processing imperfections,” said the studio.

“Finishes were kept to a minimum while much of the history of each of these large, impressive rock blocks was preserved.”

A marble sculpture and marble path on grass
Pink marble was used for its timeless qualities

Other recent designs for playground and play scapes include a playground in Amsterdam with minimalist animal sculptures by toy designer Luca Boscardin, and a playground in New York that features repurposed concrete wave breakers painted sky blue.

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Author: Jon Astbury