This proposal departs from the assumption that the Hong Kong / Shenzhen Bi-City Biennale – who invited us to participate in its lastest edition — can be an opportunity to install a fresh public use into an empty building in Nantou, an urban village in Shenzhen.
Now, a playground can be taken as an exercise to imagine unusual, subversive ways to use a building. Children shall play on it, as they shall play with the general assumptions on using architectural elements properly.
Like mixing water and oil, the challenge of this play equipment lies in keeping something of the roughness and wild textures of the abandoned concrete frame with the magical and festive atmosphere typical of playgrounds. It was a consideration for this roughness that led us to our material palette: rebar meshes and plywood boards. Two elements that are delicate enough to keep the enchantment, the silence and the reticence of the existent abandoned space.
Contrasting with the harsh materiality of the rebars and the scars of ageing, warm colors now clash against the existent grayness, whereas a myriad of slides transform the bleak slabs into platforms for moving down playfuly.
Besides proposing a public use in the private realm, the slides will let Nantou’s children (and adults!) play right in the center of their neighbourhood — a hyper dense, compact informal settlement that lacks play apparatuses.
Photos: Carlos M Teixeira, Daila Coutinho