Innovative Urban Play Space Competition

District of Columbia Office of Planning

Funding Received: 2013
Washington, DC
Funding Period: 1 year and 5 months
July 18, 2013

Someday in the not-too-distant future the country’s capital Washington, DC will be home to art so inviting and pure that children will want to play on it. Or, our capital will be home to play structures so beautiful and full of delight that they will be considered art. It may be confusing to figure out which is which, but it is certain that the community will be gifted with a whole lot of fun.

Let me explain. Thanks to a grant from ArtPlace America, the District of Columbia will hold a national design competition for “playable art” to be placed in various places within the City.

It is truly astounding just how very similar the essences of play and art are to each other. Done right, they both remove the walls between the person and the experience, the citizen and the space, the child and the joy. Play, like art, helps a person (a child) learn more about him or herself. It clarifies one’s own voice. Beautifully designed play structures help children develop an appreciation and understanding of design and art on a multitude of levels.

This competition will provide a unique opportunity for artists to develop pieces of work that reach to the core of a person no matter what their age and invite physical and emotional interaction. It will take a high level of dedication to produce these works because there is more to creating an amazing piece of playable art than there is to creating art. Constraints such as safety and durability have to be dealt with on a professional level. But, done right, there is nothing that can more successfully bring out the best in a community that truly magnificent playable art.

This competition is going to be an exciting venture. We are just walking up to the starting gate and will be in the race in a matter of days. For now it is a wonder to contemplate just how much these pieces will add to the District of Columbia.