Brutalism. Not everyone’s cup of tea is it? Even its most ardent supporters wouldn’t rush to label the architectural style as “fun”, yet for many children of the post-war generation, brutalist environments was were they did a lot of their developing. Inner city housing estate planners recognised the need to incorporate playgrounds in their designs, and the areas they provided followed the principles of the estates as a whole. Full of mazy walkways and severe concrete shapes, sharp-edged and utterly unforgiving, the playgrounds could be found in London estates such as Churchill Gardens in Pimlico, The Brunel Estate in Paddington and the Brownfield Estate in Poplar.
The rise of soft-play and the health and safety revolution rendered the brutalist play areas obsolete, and they gradually disappeared. Now the architecture collective Assemble and artist Simon Terrill have created a modernised version for an installation at RIBA, London. The Brutalist Playground occupies the entirety of the institution’s Architecture Gallery, recreating the cast concrete sculptural forms of the time in reconstituted foam conforming to today’s standards of safety. As well as taking a fresh look at a neglected form, The Brutalist Playground also explores the role of risk in children’s play and development. The work will remain until 16 August.