A child in a red shirt and blue pants balances on a board suspended across two small, green sawhorses. An astroturf hill and blue elephant-esque cart are in the background.

Popup Playground Roams Around

Going to the park is a time-honored pastime for kids around the world, but what if there isn’t one nearby? COMPA Teatro Trono and the International Design Clinic have designed a park that can come to you.

Working with a group of design students from Bolivia and America, the theatre troupe has iteratively designed a set of playground carts that can be deployed for kids to meet each other and play. El Alto, the city of 1 million where the playground plies the streets, has grown exponentially since its incorporation as an independent town in 1985. Infrastructure has trouble catching up with population jumps of 54% like that experienced from 2000-2010.

Starting with interviews with kids from the city about what was important for a playground, they found a trend of trees, slides, and the color green. Over the course of three summers, the design students went from janky prototypes to the more refined carts now seen roaming El Alto built around the idea of “exaggerated topography.” An elephant and “astroturf bee” are the two hand carts which disassemble into a variety of playground equipment once in place at a destination.

Not a ton of details are given in the article about the construction of the carts themselves, but we think this tactical urbanist approach to parks is a hack in itself. That said, be sure to point us toward some more info on the builds if you’ve found any. Know of another hack, that brings joy to your own neighborhoods? Send it to the tipsline!


Design Solutions For The Heat Crisis In Cities Around The World

It was 1999 when Smash Mouth dropped the smash hit All Star, stating “The ice we skate is getting pretty thin, the water’s getting warm so you might as well swim.” Since then, global temperatures have continued to rise, with no end in sight. Political will has been unable to make any grand changes, and the world remains on track to blow through the suggested hard limits set by scientists.

As a result, heatwaves have become more frequent, and of greater intensity, putting many vulnerable people at risk and causing thousands of deaths each year. This problem is worse in cities, where buildings and roads absorb more heat from the sun than natural landscapes do. This is referred to as the heat island effect, with cities often being several degrees warmer than surrounding natural areas. It’s significant enough that experts are worried some cities could become uninhabitable within decades. Obviously, that’s highly inconvenient for those currently living in said cities. How bad is the problem, and what can be done?

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Blinky Seesaw Has ’em Queuing At The Playground

How long has it been since you were on a seesaw? Perhaps the plank-and-fulcrum toy of your youth no longer holds any interest. But add some blinky lights and a fancy enclosure and folks are lined up to get back in the saddle.

The video after the break gives just a glimpse of what’s inside of this thing. There are 33 sets of LED strips wrapping the plank from on end to the other. They’re covered in a translucent shell (we’d guess it’s acrylic that has been heated and bent). Judging from the children walking in the middle, it’s engineered well enough to hold up to some abuse. The seesaw can sense a change in orientation and sends light cascading from one end to the other as if aided by gravity.

We really like the clean lines of the installation; the spartan center mount, the use of half a tire as a ground bumper, and fact that the very end of the plank also lights up. If we happened upon this (it’s in Melbourne, Australia so not likely) we’d wait a while for our turn!

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Generating Electricity With Swing Sets

[Guelherme Pena Costa] came up with an idea to light up a swing set using the motion of the people swinging on it to generate electricity. The goal was to get people to enjoy the playground at night and we think, this might actually be a pretty good way to achieve that. People love blink lights, especially if they are interactive.

To Light the LEd ropes, [Guelherme] has attached a gear motor to the frame of the swing set and an arm to the chain. When the swinger swings, it spins the motor generating between 6 and 10 volts at 230-400 mA. As you can see in the video below, that works fine to illuminate the LEDs, though we think a charging circuit to allow the lights to stay lit for longer would also be cool.