Part sculpture, part architectural installation, all play. The Brutalist Playground is a 2015 RIBA commission by Turner Prize winners Assemble & artist Simon Terrill.
The Brutalist Playground explores the abstract concrete playgrounds that were designed as part of post-war housing estates in the mid-twentieth century. Post-war playgrounds were often made from concrete, cast into sculptural forms, which presented a distinct move away from previous playground design. They were envisaged as a key aspect of the estate layout and design and as such reflect prevailing and social theories and concerns at that time. The original installation drew from a number of London estates: Churchill Gardens, Pimlico; the Brunel Estate, Paddington and the Brownfield Estate, Poplar.
In 2016 it toured to Peacock Visual Arts, Aberdeen and also S1 Artspace, Sheffield where new elements were added to the originally commissioned works at each venue, drawing from Seamount Court in Aberdeen and the Park Hill Estate in Sheffield respectively.
Assemble and Simon Terrill used photographs and archival material in the RIBA’s Collections, to recreate play structures cladded in reconstituted foam, creating an interactive playground where the viewer becomes participant and in this way completes the work while offering a renewed understanding and critique of the architects’ original designs and intentions. Archive images of the original playgrounds are projected on the walls.