The Playground Project


Reviews in English: Allison Meier on Hyperallergic Maisie Rowe in Landscape magazine The Guardian Karen Archey in Frieze Art Magazine By a Blogger // Reviews in French: Christophe Catsaros in Traces (in French) Elisabeth Chardon in Le Temps (in French) // Reviews in German: Gabriele Detterer in Neue Zürcher Zeitung Kristin Schmidt in Saiten Dietrich Roeschmann in Badische Zeitung Florian Niedermann in Der Landbote Friederike Meyer in Hochparterre

Until the 1980s – and in rare cases until today – playgrounds were places for social experiments, risky projects, and spectacular sculptures. Architects, urban planners, artists, parents, and children were invited to leave their comfort zone and to venture something new. Curated by Gabriela Burkhalter, The Playground Project will bring many of these exemplary, but nowadays forgotten initiatives, pioneering acts, and adventures back, and install three playgrounds for children to run, hide and climb. May our cities invent new playgrounds!

We’re not only showing playgrounds for kids, we also are a playground! Come, climb into our Lozziwurm, tie knots in the rope studio, sit at the large table to draw and built, and take a swing on our long ropes!

More views of the exhibition!

The playground is a byproduct of the industrialized city of the twentieth century. Even now, it continues to be both an ugly duckling and a coveted space. A focal point for ideas about education and childhood, about urban planning and public space, about architecture and art, about creativity and control, the playground has repeatedly resisted institutional and ideological appropriation and grown in its own sometimes quite anarchic ways. The coexistence of contradictory expectations, moments of temporary progress, and radical developments makes playgrounds so exciting. Still, as hardly anyone sees playgrounds as part of their cultural heritage, much of their history has been forgotten or can barely be understood anymore – even if all of us often have quite precise personal memories of this niche where we met our friends, took pride in new things we dared to do, braved danger without thinking about it, and learned to confront and resolve conflicts.

There have been four paradigm shifts in the development of the playground in the course of the last 150 years. First, at the beginning of the twentieth century, social reformers took children off the street and onto the playground. Then, at the beginning of the 1930s, the idea arose that children should play with natural materials rather than playground equipment. In the 1960s, the decade of autonomy and do-it-yourself, parents, children, and neighborhood groups began to take charge of playgrounds themselves. Finally, in the 1980s, with the end of social and political utopias, a crisis in playground design began.

With Marjory Allen (Lady Allen of Hurtwood), Joseph Brown, Waldemar Cordeiro, Riccardo Dalisi, Richard Dattner, Aldo van Eyck, M. Paul Friedberg, Michael Grossert, Cornelia Hahn Oberlander, Alfred Ledermann, Bernhard Luginbühl, Yvan Pestalozzi, Group Ludic, Egon Møller-Nielsen, Palle Nielsen, Isamu Noguchi, Sreejata Roy, Niki de Saint Phalle, Josef Schagerl, Mitsuru (Man) Senda, Carl Theodor Sørensen, Alfred Trachsel et al.

Including real and amazing playgrounds for real and amazing kids! Bring your parents!

The exhibition is accompanied by a comprehensive catalog introducing, discussing and illustrating numerous projects: The Playground Project, edited by Gabriela Burkhalter, with contributions by Daniel Baumann, Gabriela Burkhalter, Vincent Romagny, Sreejata Roy, and Xavier de la Salle, German / English, Kunsthalle Zürich / JRP|Ringier 2016.

Curated by Gabriela Burkhalter

Biography: Gabriela Burkhalter is a Swiss political scientist and urban planner based in Basel. She has documented the history of playgrounds on since 2008. She was a guest curator of The Playground Project at the 2013 Carnegie International, Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, and in 2014 for Architectures for Children— Zurich’s playgrounds at gta exhibitions, ETH Zurich. In the same year Group Ludic assigned their archives to her for preservation and research. In 2015 the project Group Ludic’s Visionary Urban Landscapes, 1968–1979 received a grant from the Graham Foundation Chicago.

Press information

For image inquiries, information on the exhibition program and interviews contact Aoife Rosenmeyer: presse [​at​] oder +41 (0)44 272 15 15
Fr 19.02.
Opening: The Playground Project
Mo 28.03.
Ostermontag - We're open!
Th 12.05.
Su 15.05.
Family Workshop
Mo 16.05.
Additional day!
Mo 16.05.
Clay Sculpture Workshop