PX ATHENS
Athens, Greece
2012

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In the contemporary metropolis, the playground is the public space par excellence where social development, movement skills and team spirit for the younger are cultivated. The playground is the centre of the neighbourhood for both children and their parents: a place of exchange of information, concerns and knowledge, a meeting place but also a place for leisure.
The over 130 playgrounds of the City of Athens are defined in the city’s General Plan as sites for leisure and play at a neighbourhood’s scale. Nevertheless, the reality of children’s everyday life today offers limited opportunities for outdoor play, exploration, development of imagination and ingenuity as the time left to school children for play is limited. Most Athenian playgrounds are small or medium in size -approximately 250 – 500m2- catering solely for children aged 1 to 6 years. Unfortunately, the age groups between 6 and 12 years have been excluded as users as the equipment installed is addressed to younger age groups. The existing equipment includes only standardised toys: swings, slides, seesaws and activity towers. In the name of safety, playgrounds are fenced in tall, metal railings. Due to the standardisation and uniformity of the playgrounds, the interest of children justifiably runs out quickly. Reports show that many accidents are caused due to inadequate maintenance of equipment, surface quality and lack of supervision. Only half of the playgrounds currently meet safety certification standards (of the Greek Organisation for Standardisation – ELOT) for their equipment, construction and offered facilities. In fact, 63 out of the 132 playgrounds in Athens have to be rebuilt before the end of 2012 in order to meet standards.
 

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To respect, reinstate and reconstruct Athens’ playgrounds is the intention of the PX ATHENS initiative. The innovation of the project results from an in-depth reading of the existing condition of the playgrounds in the centre of Athens in terms of their characteristics and specificities -nature, topography, built environment, history, etc- which in turn defined 7 principles for their redesign. The envisioned PX ATHENS’ playgrounds will offer to users the ‘in-situ’ joy of discovering nature, confirmation of physical skills and social coexistence in a perfectly safe yet autonomous and cohesive environment. Moreover, the interconnection of the playgrounds will offer a virtual and digital network of play in the city, in which everyone, -young or old- will have unlimited -real but also virtual- access.
The PX ATHENS initiative of the non-for-profit organisation ‘Paradeigmatos Charin’ is developed in partnership with the Municipality of Athens and is being implemented with a pilot project of 10 playgrounds scattered in the central neighbourhoods of the city.
 

credits

project description prototypical playgrounds in central Athens
location Athens, Greece
built area various
design team Stephan Buerger, Demetra Katsota, Flavian Lekkas, Thanassis Manis, Francisco Serodio, Mladen Stamenic
client Paradigmatos Xarin AE