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Come and play, the Brutalist way

RIBA presents The Brutalist Playground exhibition for all ages

Posted by Stephanie Broad | June 11, 2015 | Events

This summer the RIBA presents The Brutalist Playground - an exhibition that is part sculpture, part architectural installation. Occupying the entire Architecture Gallery, the immersive landscape is a new commission by Turner Prize-nominated design and architecture collective Assemble and artist Simon Terrill. It explores the abstract concrete playgrounds that were designed as part of post-war housing estates in the mid-twentieth century, but which no longer exist. They became playgrounds unsuitable for play.

The exhibition draws on features from a number of London estates including Churchill Gardens, Pimlico; the Brunel Estate, Paddington and the Brownfield Estate in Poplar. The playgrounds were often made from concrete, cast into sculptural forms, which presented a distinct move away from previous playground design. They were envisaged as a key aspect of the estate layout and design and as such reflect the preoccupations and social theories of society at that time.

Assemble and Simon Terrill have drawn inspiration from photographs and visual material in the RIBA’s collections, documenting the playgrounds when they were newly built and in use.  The exhibition installation will recreate visual elements from the playgrounds in reconstituted foam, creating an interactive, contemporary space where the viewer becomes participant and in this way completes the work.  Archive images of the original playgrounds will be projected on the walls. 

Artist Simon Terrill says: “The original playgrounds evoke a disappearing world of concrete mazes and windswept walkways. Like a Brechtian stage set rendered in concrete, they speak to a time before soft play and highly regulated public space. The recreation of these forms is a kind of inverted hyper-Brutalism. Playable structures reveling in the sharp edged bush hammered concrete forms they reference. The surreal edges of the Brutalist aesthetic are seen here in the form of the playground.”

The Brutalist Playground will be accompanied by a public programme of talks, debates and film screenings as well as workshops and events for families.

Part of the London Festival of Architecture

10 June – 16 August 2015

Architecture Gallery at RIBA, 66 Portland Place, London, W1  #BrutalistPlayground     

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