Famed Mexico City fountain gets play makeover

The transformation of a historic Mexico City fountain into a children’s playground has shown what can be done with underused urban spaces.

The makeover – albeit a temporary one – was the winning entry in the Urban Toys competition, which invited ideas for designing and delivering a temporary play haven for children in Loreto Square, one of the city’s most famous spaces.

Imaginative cities

Urban Toys is the brainchild of Laboratorio para la Ciudad (Laboratory for the City), Mexico City’s new experimental office for civic innovation and urban creativity. The first department of its type in Latin America, it promotes ideas for rethinking and reinventing the way people and public bodies can work together towards the development of more imaginative cities.

Local architects Palma Studio came up with the winning concept, AROS, which uses wooden ramps and horizontal grids to provide ‘moments of moderate risk which encourages interaction and dynamic play’. The setting for this slice of imagination is in the centuries-old Loreto Square, which saw its first fountain in the 1880s as a gift for the community. The current one goes back to the 1920s.

Spontaneous play

“By placing the project within the confines of the iconic plaza fountain, we take advantage of the spontaneous play that already takes place,” says Palma Studio. “The design is built around the different types of play which are influenced the most by the physical space around the child. In the case of physical play, this relationship is the strongest.”

The playground’s various layers and observation point are described as ‘great for made-up role play and socio-dramatic games’. “The ramps temporarily envelop the fountain which creates a sensory experience when the fountain is on but can also be used as a dry game – this versatility allows for its use to go beyond a simple playground game in order to connect with the community and even be used as a small forum space,” adds the company.

Author: Simon Weedy

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