Playful Horizons

Playful Horizons

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To play is to engage in a universal experience that defies definition and engenders ambiguity. Across time and disciplines, scholars have often expressed their fascination with the aspects of play that are paradoxical and puzzling, such as qualities of ephemerality and mutability. From Geoffrey Bateson’s (1956) description of play’s ability to appear to be something other than it actually is to Mihai Spariosu’s (1989) description of play as “amphibolous” (or) lacking clarity and going in opposing directions at once, play is an exemplar of indeterminacy. The realm of play is so elusive that Victor Turner wrote that it “occupies a threshold between reality and unreality, as if, for example, it were on the beach between the land and the sea.”

In this way, Playful Horizons explores conditions of indeterminacy that are associated with attributes of openness, creativity and expanded imagination. Through a child’s eyes, the potential spaces of playful exploration are unlimited. Playgrounds negotiate a complex array of societal values and concerns that inscribe boundaries to protect spaces that foster playfulness. And, in this way, they hold the responsibility of defining and protecting spaces where imaginations are challenged, nurtured and encouraged to explore playful horizons.

Project Details

Project Location | Battle Creek, Michigan
Status | Complete, 2014
Principal in Charge | Jen Maigret, AIA
Collaboration | María Arquero de Alarcón, MAde Studio
Client | First Congregational Church of Battle Creek
Project Design Team | Andrew Wolking, John Guinn, Shuqi He, Caileigh MacKellar, Le Nguyen, Anna Schaefferkoetter
Hoophouse Fabrication Team | Caileigh MacKellar, Le Nguyen
Playline Fabrication | J&L Manufacturing, Marshall, MI
Landscape Construction | Outdoor Landscape, Battle Creek, MI


Boston Society of Architects, AIA Design Citation, Unbuilt Category 2014