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Brief Published: 12 Jun 2015

The Brutalist Playground

Brutalist Playground by Assemble and Simon Terrill

London-based architecture collective Assemble and British artist Simon Terrill have collaborated on a surreal, pastel-coloured playground made from blocks of foam.

Built inside the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) headquarters in London, the Brutalist Playground features full-sized foam replicas of playground designs from architecture’s Brutalist era, which spanned from the 1950s to mid-70s. The cold, hard concrete that is synonymous with the period has been substituted with reconstituted foam, layered with pieces of spongy coloured chunks that mimic the rocks and pebbles in grainy concrete aggregate. 

By replicating the shapes in foam – a material commonly found in indoor playgrounds – the designers have transformed the overscaled and hard-edged landscape into a friendly, comforting and safe environment. The cushioning material in soft pastel hues makes the playground an inviting space for children to explore. The installation runs until August 16 2015.

This playful approach to colour and materials is being seen across the design sectors. Look to our Curious Tactility report for more intriguing material uses and surprising surface treatments.

Designers are increasingly focusing on appealing to our senses through tactility. Read about other ways in which creatives are pushing the boundaries of design to challenge our senses in our Materials Focus 2017 rationale, Sensation