In this presentation, you will hear about the process that has informed the design, use, and eventual evaluation of three new Playspace installations in three neighborhood branches of the Free Library of Philadelphia. Design and architecture firm DIGSAU teamed up with play researchers and designers from Studio Ludo, community play advocates at Smith Memorial Playground, and fabricators from Erector Sets to engage the community of library users to learn how they might imagine play within their libraries. The research phase included identifying precedents and trends as well as uncovering the architectural history and spatial quality of each of the three unique buildings. After conducting a series of community design charrettes and meeting with branch library staff about specifics, the Playspace team created design schemes that emerged as a reflection of the new program and from the architectural context. Meanwhile, library staff engaged in a series of trainings and discussions about the importance of play in a library and how to balance supporting a rich play experience with managing materials and behaviors. Much of the content focused on three things: developing a reflective practice and communication method within the library, growing understanding for the connections between the kind of play happening and designed for and learning, and practicing and supporting concrete play prompts and experiences in the library. The design solution incorporated cohesive elements – moveable elements and iconic shapes – that serve to unite the three installations as well as unique features that serve to work within and reinforce the specific environment of each installation.
Health, Safety and Welfare
1 Engage and empower local communities through playful workshops and visioning sessions.
2 Outline process for engaging users and owners through a series of interactive design charrettes
3 List and discuss play types that are possible and desirable in library settings that promote literacy and caregiver-child interaction
4 Identify challenges and potential solutions for librarians facilitating play spaces
Joel Nichols, Strategic InitiativesFree Library of PhiladelphiaKate Zmich, Director of Community Programs & FunSmith Memorial Playground & PlayhouseMeghan Talarowski, Directorstudio ludoJeff Goldstein, PrincipalDIGSAU