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Assemble plans to transform RIBA into ‘Brutalist playground’

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Turner Prize-nominated Assemble has revealed plans to transform the RIBA’s architecture gallery into a ‘Brutalist playground’ as part of a new exhibition

Visitors will be invited to ‘play in a Brutalist way’ at the fun-filled, interactive exhibition at RIBA HQ, described as ‘part sculpture, part architectural installation’.

The headline-grabbing art and architecture collective will turn the Carmody Groarke-designed gallery at Portland Place into a foam playground recreating the play spaces of post-war estates.

Designed in collaboration with artist Simon Terrill, the installation explores the concrete playgrounds that formed part of the UK’s Brutalist housing estates and features Powell & Moya’s Churchill Gardens, the Brunel Estate in Paddington, Sheffield’s Park Hill, and the Brownfield Estate in Poplar which is home to Erno Goldfinger’s Balfron Tower.

The estates’ playgrounds, many of which are now demolished, were often made from cast concrete forms and reflected the preoccupations and social theories of society at that time.

Commenting on the plans for the installation, which are part of the 2015 London Festival of Architecture, Assemble said: ‘The challenge of reconstructing elements of now forgotten Brutalist play structures within the RIBA gallery is an exciting opportunity for us to explore contemporary issues surrounding play, by looking at the often surreal objects from the past.

‘Working closely with the RIBA collections and Terrill, the interpretation of these spaces has allowed us to ask questions around materiality and the nature of risk in play, while also giving greater visibility to the incredible original images of the playgrounds that can be found in the collections.’

Artist Simon Terrill, added: ‘The original playgrounds evoke a disappearing world of concrete mazes and windswept walkways. Like a Brechtian stage set rendered in concrete, they speak to a time before soft play and highly regulated public space. The recreation of these forms is a kind of inverted hyper-Brutalism. Playable structures reveling in the sharp edged bush hammered concrete forms they reference. The surreal edges of the Brutalist aesthetic are seen here in the form of the playground.’

The exhibition opens on 10 June and runs until 16 August.

 

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Readers' comments (2)

  • Come on! Churchill Gardens "Brutalist"? Don't just spray this term about so indiscriminatorily as to make it meaningless.

    Historically Powell and Moya's great pioneering, competition-winning work was completed long before the term was ever used, as, no doubt was the case with the Brunel Estate.

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  • Chris Roche

    ‘Working closely with the RIBA collections and Terrill, the interpretation of these spaces has allowed us to ask questions around materiality and the nature of risk in play, while also giving greater visibility to the incredible original images of the playgrounds that can be found in the collections.’

    Hopefully there will be some piss-stained spaces where kids can negotiate the risk of discarded syringes for a reality-check experience
    Chris Roche / Founder 11.04 Architects

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