The collaborative public space project in Billund, made from blocks of pink marble, includes a ‘play contract’ carved into the stones
Words by Francesca Perry
Superflex, the multidisciplinary Copenhagen-based art and design studio, has completed Play Contract, a series of co-designed playful structures in the town of Billund, central Denmark.
Established in 1993, Superflex is known for its play-focused and participatory public space projects, including the acclaimed Copenhagen park, Superkilen (2011). Play Contract results from a series of co-design workshops with 121 children in Billund, who were invited to explore and design structures that could promote play.
In close collaboration with KWY.studio – an art and architecture practice – Superflex gathered the children’s models and developed them into final designs, which were then constructed in pink marble in Billund Sculpture Park. Straddling public art and public space design, these interventions pique curiosity, invite interaction and prompt play.
‘Most public art is made by adults, without taking children’s perspectives into account,’ explains Superflex. ‘With Play Contract, the balance of power is tipped, and children have helped design a playful space featuring five sculptures surrounded by adapted landscape. The visitors’ behaviour in this space is governed by a contract that asks grown-ups to submit to the conditions of children’s play.’
The sculptures comprise approximately 300 differently sized and shaped stones, all left raw and unpolished. Throughout the co-design process, a contract was drawn up, informed by the children’s thoughts about play, that requires grown-ups to ‘embrace their sense of the absurd and to abide by children’s sense of time’ in the area of the sculptures. This contract has also been carved into the sculptures, giving the children’s preferences a sense of permanence and power.
‘Adults strive to control the world around them, but play involves allowing for surprises and giving up control,’ says Superflex. ‘Play Contract is an invention for children and grown-ups to meet and re-think the idea of play.’
Photography by Torben Eskerod, courtesy of Superflex