Monday, May 2, 2011

A new playground for Casablanca

Two weeks ago I had the great pleasure of being back in Casablanca, while assisting Cathelijne Montens in the last week of a workshop by designLAB  / Gerrit Rietveld Academie in collaboration with the City of Amsterdam, the Fabrique Culturelle des Abattoires and Casamemoire.

For Casamemoire, the playground on a square of the former slaughterhouse is a tactic to attract family mothers and bring them in contact with the Abattoirs growing cultural and social activities. The social tissue of the Hay Mohammadi district has been fragilized for years, due to a lack of investment in adequate infrastructure and social measures. The week spent amidst the dust, wind and scorching sun made clear that the students' designs, if well taken care of, have the potential to foster a space for trust, imagination, exchange, and play.

The research started with an inventory of Aldo van Eyck's ideas on children and play (Het kind beweegt, niet het toestel), which he formulated and refined throughout the 840 (!) playgrounds, which were installed in Amsterdam between 1950 and 1980. Another starting point was the rich 'savoir faire' of street workers, who according to Montens and her partner Krijn Christiaansen shape Casa's public space with a charming nonchalance and surreal common sense. Finally, the playground's brief included the goal for local repair, if necessary, and reproduction, as often as possible…. Hence the use of locally available materials and widespread installation techniques.

Play is about taking our imagination seriously. It's also about making things move. Let's hope this playground attracts and fosters these values.

Here's a link to the press release in French, which I wrote after interviewing Cathelijne.

Réalisation: Khadija Kabbaj, Extramuros

Intervenants et professeurs : Cathelijne Montens, Krijn Christiaansen, Bas van Beek, Anke Weiss, Sophie Krier, David van der Veldt. Phase préparatoire aux Pays-Bas: Cynthia Hathaway, Lena Shafir, Michiel Meurs, Francis Strauven, Erik Wong.

Un grand merci à Abderrahim Kassou, Aadel Essaadani, Aicha Elbeloui, Empreinte d’architectes, Bertrand Houin, Afrique études, Lamjid Rourak, CTCE, Rachid, Tarik, et les gardiens de l’abattoir. Avec la nouvelle aire de jeux, le réseau d’artisans, d’ouvriers et d’amis établi au cours du projet ICI, Casa Ville Inventive a pu se renouveler, une preuve que la continuité est essentielle pour ce genre d’efforts.

Images by Krijn Christiaansen, Cathelijne Montens, Sophie Krier, Alexander Spiliopoulos.

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